In an attempt to answer prevailing questions about our moon, NASA is making final preparations to launch a probe at 11:27 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.
The small car-sized Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is a robotic mission that will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere and determine whether dust is being lofted into the lunar sky. A thorough understanding of these characteristics of our nearest celestial neighbor will help researchers understand other bodies in the solar system, such as large asteroids, Mercury, and the moons of outer planets.
In this photo, engineers as NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia encapsule the LADEE spacecraft into the fairing of the Minotaur V launch vehicle nose-cone. LADEE is the first spacecraft designed, developed, built, integrated and tested at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
Image credit: NASA Wallops / Terry Zaperach