Earlier this year, NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft purposely crashed into the moon. A $280 six-month mission was launched in September 2013 and ended on 18 April 2014 by means of a scheduled impact on the moon’s surface on its far side in an effort to avoid mutilation to the historic Apollo landing sites on the near-side of the moon.
The final destination of LADEE, aimed at studying the Moon’s atmosphere and learning more about lunar dust is predicted to lie on the eastern rim of Sundman V crater on the far side of the Moon, about 0.2 miles north of the spot where according to data the spacecraft was actually predicted to go down.
“I’m happy that the LROC team was able to confirm the LADEE impact point,” commented Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at Ames Research Center in California.
“It really helps the LADEE team to get closure and know exactly where the product of their hard work wound up,” he added.
“The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team recently developed a new computer tool to search Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) before and after image pairs for new craters, the LADEE impact event provided a fun test,” Mark Robinson, principal investigator of LROC from Arizona State University in Tempe said.
“As it turns (out) there were several small surface changes found in the predicted area of the impact, the biggest and most distinctive was within 968 feet (295 meters) of the spot estimated by the LADEE operations team. What fun!”
LADEE was NASA’s first endeavor to give a shot to a two-way communication by means of optical lasers as a substitute of radio waves.
“With LRO, NASA will study our nearest celestial neighbor for at least two more years,” commented John Keller, LRO project scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
“LRO continues to increase our understanding of the Moon and its environment.”