NASA scientists and mission managers held a press conference on Thursday to discuss the agency's upcoming LADEE mission. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft will be launched from NASA's Wallops Island Launch Facility on Wallops Island, Va. on Sept. 6. The LADEE spacecraft was designed, developed built and tested at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
Speakers at the press conference included: John Grunsfeld, Associate administrator for the Science Directorate, Joan Salute, LADEE program executive, Sarah Noble, LADEE program scientist, Butler Hine, LADEE program Manager, Doug Voss launch manager and Don Cornwell, mission manager for the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration.
The moon's atmosphere is referred to as an exosphere because it is so thin that individual atoms that make up the atmosphere do not interact with one another. The small car-sized LADEE spacecraft will orbit the moon and analyze the composition and structure of the moon's thin atmosphere and determine if dust is being lofted into the lunar sky. Recent studies indicate that Mercury and other bodies in the solar system such as large asteroids may have atmospheres similar to the moon's.
"The moon's tenuous atmosphere may be more common in the solar system than we thought," said John Grunsfeld. Further understanding of the moon's atmosphere may also help us better understand our diverse solar system and its evolution."
In addition to the scientific instruments for observing the lunar atmosphere, LADEE will also carry equipment for the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD). This will be NASA's first high-rate, two-way, space laser communication demonstration.
On Sept. 6, NASA Ames Research Center will host a public viewing of the launch coverage. The launch broadcast will be shown on large outdoor screens and there will be booths with information about the center's scientific activities . There will also be food trucks and games and activities for children.The event is free but because parking and attendance are limited tickets are required.
For more information about the LADEE mission go to: LADEE mission
For more information on the launch event at NASA Ames go to: Ames Science Night