At the conclusion of its meeting the NASA Advisory Council adopted a “finding” that the asteroid redirect mission should be dropped in favor of demonstrating solar electric propulsion on a Mars orbit mission. That could include a Phobos or Deimos sample return, but the council wanted to leave NASA some flexibility to study all options.
“If this technology is designed to go to Mars and back, let’s send it to Mars and back,” said Steve Squyres, chairman of the advisory committee. The vote was unanimous. This “finding” represents the opinion of the committee and is not binding on NASA. However it will likely spur NASA to at least further study a Mars orbit option, and will embolden the many critics of NASA’s asteroid mission