Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei
California: The US space agency, NASA, will launch its next mission to the moon on Friday in order to study the satellite’s super thin exosphere and dust.
The robotic spacecraft called Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is scheduled to blast off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on a Minotaur V carrier rocket in Virginia on Friday at 11:27 p.m. ET.
LADEE- pronounced “laddie”, is NASA’s newest robotic mission and is the size of a small car and will collect data about lunar dust such as electric charge, density and mass during its 100-day mission.
If Weather permits, the launch could be visible to skywatchers along the East Coast of the United States when the rocket takes off from Virginia this week.
“I love this mission. LADEE is going to be fantastic,” John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate, told journalists during on August 22.
“I’m getting really excited as we move to the launch pad first of all because it’s going to the moon. Ever since I was a young boy like so many folks looking up at the sky I’ve wondered about the moon.”
LADEE mission will address three major science goals:
- Determine the global density, composition, and time variability of the tenuous lunar atmosphere before it is perturbed by further human activity;
- Find out if the Apollo astronaut sightings of mysterious luminosity above the surface were sodium glow or dust when they landed on the moon in 1960s and;
- Document the dust impactor environment (size-frequency) to help guide design engineering for the outpost and also future robotic missions.
LADEE will take 30 days to make it into its final orbit around the moon once launched.
While NASA is asking amateur astronomers worldwide to watch for lunar impacts during the LADEE mission, this will be NASA’s first moon shot from Virginia.