New York, April 7: A NASA spacecraft that was launched last September to collect scientific data from the lunar surface is set for a natural death on the moon later this month.
The LADEE probe (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) is expected to hit the far side of the moon not visible from the earth and naturally decay, NASA said in a press release.
The scientists are, however, trying to ascertain that LADEE does not harm the moon’s surface.
“The moon’s gravity field is so lumpy, and the terrain is so highly variable with crater ridges and valleys that frequent maneuvers are required or the LADEE spacecraft would impact the moon’s surface,” Butler Hine, LADEE project manager, was quoted as saying.
So the controllers are flying the spacecraft just 3-4 km from the moon to gather last moment scientific data and letting it use all the fuel before it hits the surface and decay naturally.
The spacecraft was launched to learn about lunar dust and the thin lunar atmosphere.