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LADEE Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) was designed to study the Moon's thin exosphere and the lunar dust environment. Studying the Moon's exosphere will help scientists understand other planetary bodies with exospheres too, like Mercury and some of Jupiter's bigger moons.The mission tested several new technologies, including a modular spacecraft bus that may reduce the cost of future deep space missions and demonstrate two-way high rate laser communication for the first time from the Moon.

Accomplishments: LADEE successfully demonstrated the multi-use spacecraft bus and laser communications system. The spacecraft's three science payload instruments took more than 700,000 measurements from a unique position that allows the spacecraft to frequently pass from lunar day to lunar night every two hours. This vantage provides data on the full range of changes and processes occurring within the moon's tenuous atmosphere. LADEE also gathered detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere. A thorough understanding of these characteristics of our nearest celestial neighbor will help researchers understand other bodies in the solar system, such as large asteroids, Mercury and the moons of outer planets.

Moon - NASA's Lunar Portal
Key Dates
6 Sep 2013:  Launch (11:27 p.m. EDT)
6 Oct 2013:  Lunar Orbit Insertion
10 Nov 2013:  Science Mission Begins
21 Apr 2014:  Lunar Impact (Estimated)
Status: In Flight
Fast Facts
LADEE Facts LADEE data will help determine the impact of increased human activity on the Moon's thin exosphere.

An exosphere is an atmosphere that is so thin and tenuous that molecules don't collide with each other.

Because the Moon's atmosphere is so thin, disturbances could quickly swamp its natural composition.
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Last Updated: 17 Apr 2014