Washington, April 19: Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, confirmed that NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface of the Moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m. PDT Thursday, April 17.
LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent into the lunar surface. The spacecraft’s orbit naturally decayed following the mission’s final low-altitude science phase.
During impact, engineers believe the LADEE spacecraft, the size of a vending machine, broke apart, with most of the spacecraft’s material heating up several hundred degrees-or even vaporizing-at the surface. Any material that remained is likely buried in shallow craters.
Rick Elphic, LADEE project scientist at Ames said at the time of impact, LADEE was traveling at a speed of 3,600 miles per hour-about three times the speed of a high-powered rifle bullet.
He said there’s nothing gentle about impact at these speeds-it’s just a question of whether LADEE made a localized craterlet on a hillside or scattered debris across a flat area. It will be interesting to see what kind of feature LADEE has created. (ANI)