NASA reworks moon rover mission amid outcry

Resource Prospector prototype
A prototype for the Resource Prospector rover undergoes field testing. (NASA via YouTube)

An influential group of advisers on lunar exploration says NASA is canceling its Resource Prospector mission to explore the moon’s surface in the 2020s — and urged the agency’s newly sworn-in administrator, Jim Bridenstine, to reverse the decision.

In response, NASA pledged today that “selected instruments from Resource Prospector will be landed and flown on the moon” as part of an expanded robotic campaign that will make use of commercial landers and rovers.

The tumult over the $250 million mission comes as Bridenstine and the White House’s National Space Council are ramping up their back-to-the-moon campaign. Resource Prospector appears to have been caught up in that campaign’s fast-moving paradigm shifts.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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