LADEE impact site on the eastern rim of Sundman V crater. the crater was made by the 383 kg (844 lb) spacecraft. Image: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer also known as LADEE was launched from the Wallops Flight Facility on 06 September 2013 on a mission that would take it to the moon with four main goals:
Determine the global density, composition, and time variability of the tenuous lunar exosphere before it is perturbed by further human activity;
Determine if the Apollo astronaut sightings of diffuse emission at tens of kilometers above the surface were sodium glow or dust;
Document the dust impactor environment (size, frequency) to help guide design engineering for the outpost and also future robotic missions;
Demonstrate two-way laser communication from lunar orbit.
The laser communication demonstration was successful and a download link of 622 megabits/sec was attained. The science data I think is still being studied.
The mission ended with a controlled interface with the lunar surface (it crashed on purpose) on 18 April 2014 at a velocity of 5,800 km/sec or 3,600 mph.
See more images at LROC’s LADEE Impact Crater site.
Artist concept (see text). Image Credit: NASA/Colorado School of Mines/MIT/JPL/GSFC
The twin GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, gathered data during their mission while orbiting the moon and they give us a little bit of an explanation of what the results show.
There hasn’t been too much coming out about the mission since this almost a year ago: NASA’s GRAIL Mission Puts a New Face on the Moon
Here’s the press release from the NASA:
A view of Earth’s moon looking south across Oceanus Procellarum, representing how the western border structures may have looked while active. The gravity anomalies along the border structures are interpreted as ancient, solidified, lava-flooded rifts that are now buried beneath the surface of the dark volcanic plains, or maria, on the near side of the moon.
The MAVEN spacecraft will enter a Martian orbit on 21 September. After a six-week period of fine tuning the orbit and scientific instruments the spacecraft will begin to take measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and solar wind.
NOTE: The SpaceX launch has changed the launch date and time – see the previous post.