Originally Posted by BlackandDecker
Why would they spend so much money to send a probe to orbit a goddam Rock???
Why not spend the money on a soil return mission to Mars? or a Hydrobot to the drill through the ice of Europa and swim the ocean below??
NASA's been all about dead-end missions since the end of Apollo
because those missions cost alot more money than strapping an ion engine to a basic probe and throwing it into the asteroid belt. Instead of using tried and true tech, they have to develop new tech to autonomously build and launch a rocket from the surface of mars and send its payload back here. Not only is it expensive, but its actually more wasteful and dead end than sending a probe around a very large asteroid. keep in mind, Dawn has the capability to escape Vesta's gravity well and move on, which it will, on to the dwarf planet Ceres.
And besides, they recently launched the Juno probe, so they still have that going for them