NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Observatory has arrived at the launch site on the Eastern Shore of Virginia at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island and is now in the midst of weeks of performance testing to ensure it is ready for liftoff in early September.
The LADEE lunar orbiting probe will be the first planetary science mission ever launched from NASA Wallops and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS). It will soar to space atop a solid fueled Minotaur V rocket on its maiden flight.
LADEE will blaze a brilliant trail to the Moon during a spectacular nighttime blastoff slated for Sept. 6, 2013 at 11:27 PM from Launch Pad 0B.
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LADEE is equipped with three science instruments to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.
“LADEE will investigate the moons tenuous exosphere, trace outgases like the sodium halo and lofted dust at the terminator,” said Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director at NASA HQ, in an exclusive interview with Universe Today.
“The spacecraft has a mass spectrometer to identify the gases, a physical dust detector and an imager to look at scattered light from the dust. These processes also occur at asteroids.”
“And it will also test a laser communications system that is a technology demonstrator for future planetary science missions. It communicates at 650 megabits per second,” Green explained to me.
The couch sized 844 pound (383 kg) robotic explorer was assembled at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field Calif., and is a cooperative project with NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland.
The spacecraft was then shipped cross country by a dedicated truck inside a specially-designed shipping container – blanketed with protective nitrogen – which insulated the spacecraft from temperature, moisture, bumps in the road and more than a few crazy drivers.
The first leg of LADEE’s trip to the Moon took 5 days. The trans lunar leg will take 30 days.
It’s standard practice that whenever space probes are moved by ground transportation that they are accompanied by a caravan that includes a lead scout vehicle to ensure safe road conditions and followed by engineers monitoring the health and environmental storage conditions.
Technicians are now engaged in a lengthy series of performance tests to confirm that LADEE was not damaged during the road trip and that all spacecraft systems are functioning properly.
“One important preparation about to begin is spin-balancing LADEE,” says Butler Hine, LADEE Project Manager. “During this procedure, the spacecraft is mounted to a spin table and rotated at a high-speed to make sure it is perfectly balanced for launch.”
After all spacecraft systems pass the performance tests, LADEE will be fueled, encapsulated and moved to the Wallops Island launch pad later this summer for mating with the five stage Minotaur V booster stack.
“I’m excited about the night launch because people up and down the Atlantic seacoast will be able to see it,” Green told me.
10 Replies to “LADEE Lunar Probe Unveiled at NASA’s Wallops Launch Site in Virginia”
What..? What’s that, LADEE? Timmy’s fallen into a Lunar Lave Tube?
It is in the text.
— NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) —
Am I missing something? Is this a comment on my Lassie joke? WHAT is in the text? This doesn’t seem to be following my comment?
Your comment states: ” What’s that, LADEE?”
So yes it does follow your comment.
And I have no idea how a D can suddenly turn in an S. Probably some part of your dialect.
ya your a real genius… not
A, use capitols, that’s what they’re for. B. It’s “You’re” as in, “You Are”, not, “your” and C. I was just making a joke about Lassie the TV series and it’s proximity to the name of this probe. How on Earth did it inspire you to make a disparaging comment? Get a life, Troll-bot…
Hey Laaady…with the propellant and the oxidation equally opposite forcing the expulsioning expansion billowing forth. Its lunar in the degree of coldness for the physicist we have Dr. Irwin Corey for comment already the Moon he is on…talking….but the hearing is not easy.
Great story ,I will follow it !!
“The spacecraft was then shipped cross country by a dedicated truck
inside a specially-designed shipping container – blanketed with
protective nitrogen – which insulated the spacecraft from temperature,
moisture, bumps in the road and more than a few crazy drivers.”
Dude. If I knew it was driving past Pittsburgh I would drive along with it just to help assure its safety.
A very interesting mission! (Aren’t they all?) I wonder if LADEE will see lunar dust levitated by tribo-electric charges as the terminator processes around Luna?
“..test a laser communications system.” Another fine reason to visit and refurbish old on-orbit KH-11’s? Reuse the mirrors for laser *.coms on deep space missions?
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