NASA's LADEE Moon Probe Will Launch This Week
NASA will launch their revolutionary new lunar probe this week, starting a mission that scientists hope will reveal the secret behind the moon's mysterious glow. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) will launch this Friday evening from Virginia with the aid of the brand new Minotaur 5 rocket. It will be the first time a Minotaur 5 rocket will be used to carry a craft into space.
After a month-long journey to the moon, LADEE will start to search for signs of lunar dust, which scientists believe is responsible for the moon's unique glow. But it isn't just the moon's dusty glow that scientists are looking to understand with LADEE, they will also be using the probe to gain an understanding of the moon's atmosphere...yes, it does actually have an atmosphere. The moon has what is known in the 'biz' as a Surface Boundary Atmosphere, which is akin to the atmospheres seen on objects such as large asteroids and many other moons and planets.
By analyzing the moon's atmosphere, scientists believe they will actually be able to learn more about another object in our solar system...Mercury. By using LADEE's data from the Moon's atmosphere, scientists hope they can make links to what's happening on it's surface. In turn, the same insights could give us our first idea on what is happening on Mercury's sun-baked surface.
LADEE represents the next phase of human learning about the moon. When it completes its 30 day journey, it will spend around 100 days analyzing the moon, so keep an ear out for some potentially exciting developments later this year.