@nunayobiznus I actually do think that is a large portion of it.
You never really hear the news mention them any more, but the Mars Rovers are still going strong. Both rovers were slated to have a 90 day life span while they explored the surface of Mars. Spirit, the first rover to land, has now been going for over 640 days. Oppurtunity, the second to make planet fall, has been going for over 620 days. Do you think we have gotten our monies worth out of these yet?
Considering the bad track record of NASA on other missions, the success of these rovers is astounding. You have to wonder if anyone who works on these missions would think these little fellas would still be going after this long. My question is, why are we pondering sending manned missions back to the Moon in 2018, when these little guys are doing such a good job? Couldn’t we just send more of these rovers out? I realize the gravity of the Moon is less than Mars, but the rovers were built to have different wheel systems, so certainly we could adapt them to a lower gravity situation.