LADEE, which is NASA’s robotic moon explorer, has been reported to have crashed against the backside of the moon. The orbiting spacecraft crashed into that side in what was a basically planned ending and happened only three days after the full lunar eclipse. However the small spacelab was never expected or designed to last so long.
Scientists think that the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer most likely ended up vaporizing when it made contact because of its great orbiting speed of over 3,500 mph. It probably hit into the side of a mountain or even deep in a crater. There would have been no debris left behind.
However the explorer most likely left a dent when it did crash down, stated project scientist Rick Elphic.
On Thursday evening, the spacecraft was gliding along the moon’s surface at an exceptionally low altitude of only 300 feet. Its orbit had been dropped on purpose last week in order to guarantee it crashed by Monday following an amazingly successful science operation.
LADEE had been sent up in September of 2013 from Virginia. The explorer accomplished its chief 100 day science mission in March and was working on way overtime. This extension had LADEE going while the lunar eclipse happened on April 15, 2014. This was something it was never designed to endure. Its instruments were not made to endure such cold and darkness yet the tiny spacecraft persisted. It is only around the size of a vending machine. The only things that happened were a few pressure sensors did not behave correctly.
However scientists were nervous about as to when LADEE would meet its demise. As it turned out, LADEE ended up crashing into the dark side of the moon not long after NASA thought it would. The small spacelab’s obituary statement was released early Friday morning, Eastern Daylight Time.
It still will be 24 to 48 hours before NASA knows exactly where the spacecraft broke up. The information cutoff seems to point to that it did indeed crash on the far side of the lunar surface. LADEE had used up all its fuel and was unable to stay in orbit any longer. So from the beginning, NASA had planned to smash the little spacelab into the dark side of the moon. They wanted to make sure it was far away from any Apollo articles that had been left up there during the days of moonwalking from the years 1969 to 1972.
During its $280 million assignment, LADEE was able to identify numerous components of the moon’s extremely thin atmosphere. Metals such as magnesium, titanium and neon were discovered in the grimy veil that surrounds the moon and is created by all the surface particles kicked up by micrometeorites that hit constantly.
Elphic stated that LADEE’s cup had really overflowed with information sent back to Earth. By going to the moon, the tiny spacecraft actually allowed researchers to visit other worlds with similar fragile atmospheres and dirty environments.
LADEE crashed against the back side of the moon this week. The orbiting spacecraft crashed into that side only three days after the full lunar eclipse.
By Kimberly Ruble
New York Central News