NASA launches LADEE probe to study lunar atmosphere
NASA launched a robotic explorer LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) into space from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia.
About LADEE spacecraft:
- LADEE is Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer or LADEE.
- Cost: $280 million
- Launching Site: Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia on September 6, 2013.
- Carrier: Minotaur V launched from Wallops Flight Facility
- Mission: To study the lunar exosphere (outer atmosphere) and dust in the Moon’s vicinity.
- Key Instruments: A dust detector, a neutral mass spectrometer, and an ultraviolet-visible spectrometer, as well as a technology demonstration consisting of a laser communications (lasercomm) terminal.
Scientists want to explore the composition of the moon’s very thin atmosphere and how it might change over time. Researchers also want to solve a puzzle that whether dust actually rises from the lunar surface. On board there is laser communication test equipment which NASA will experiment with hopes to eventually replace its traditional radio systems with laser communications, which would revolutionize communication with its faster bandwidth using very less power and smaller devices.