Yesterday, NASA launched a new moon probe, which has the technical name of Lunar Atmospheric Environment Explorer (LADEE). It was launched late on Friday night, September 6, and lived up to all of the hype and then more. The probe was launched from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia. It is always quite a sight to see something being launched into space, but objects like this one continue to be more impressive and advanced, each time they are built.
This new probe is scheduled to observe the atmosphere of Earth’s natural satellite for around 160 days, according to International Business Times. While the launch was viewed as a success, the space agency did note a technical issue after the spacecraft had separated from the launch vehicle.
Just hours after the launch, officials announced that the spacecraft’s reaction wheels had unexpectedly shut down, says NBC News. The reaction wheels are used to position and stabilize LADEE, and were turned on as it was spinnig too fast after separating from the Minotaur V Rocket. The team behind LADEE’s production will analyze the spacecraft as part of a routine checkout and NASA could spend more time in order to figure out what caused the incident to happen.
LADEE, which is only the size of a small car, is expected to reach the moon on October 6. A couple of the main goal’s of LADEE’s are to finally learn the composition of the Moon’s delicate atmosphere, and how it might change over time. Another unsolved puzzle is whether dust actually levitates from the Moon’s surface. A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns, allowing scientists to understand other planetary bodies as well, according to NASA. The mission is divided into missions phases, which include Launch, Ascent, Activation and Checkout, Phasing Orbits, Lunar Orbit Insertion, Commissioning, Science, and Decommissioning.
The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is headed toward the moon after launching… http://t.co/lE9RwvDb0H
— NASA (@NASA) September 7, 2013
The spacecraft is supposed to take 30 days to reach the Moon and will perform its lunar atmosphere and dust mission for approximately 100 days. It will also test a new laser communications system that NASA has described as being like a new type of interplanetary internet.
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