Objectif Lune for NASA. Forty years after the last Apollo astronauts had left the lunar surface, the U.S. space agency successfully launched late Friday a new probe to the moon to unlock the secrets of its thin atmosphere.
This mission will also help to better understand other solar system objects such as large asteroids or the planet Mercury. The Minotaur V rocket five floors, a converted intercontinental missile, was torn from its launch pad at the Wallops Space Center located on an island off the coast of Virginia (southeast) as scheduled at 23h27 local under a sky star.
months of travel
unmanned vessel that carries, the size of a small car, called “Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer” (Ladee) was separated from the top floor of Minautor V about twenty minutes after launch . The probe is expected to reach lunar orbit within a month.
With three science instruments including two spectrometers, Ladee, which weighs 383 pounds, 135 kg of fuel to collect detailed data on the structure and chemical composition of very thin lunar atmosphere (1/100.000é density that of the Earth) and determine if dust remains suspended especially near the ground.
mission in two steps
dust grains could explain the mystery of lights observed by Apollo astronauts between 1969 and 1972 in the lunar horizon just before sunrise, says NASA. A better understanding of the characteristics of the atmosphere of our closest celestial neighbor could help scientists understand other objects in our solar system such as asteroids or other large moons orbiting other planets, say officials of the mission 280 million initiated in 2008.
Ladee remain first 40 days high above the lunar surface to perform a series of tests. In particular, it uses a new powerful as that of terrestrial fiber optic networks laser transmission technology. Then it will begin its mission of scientific study of the lunar atmosphere during 100 days. The latest NASA mission to the Moon was in 2012 with the launch of the twin Grail probes to unravel the secrets of the lunar interior and measure the gravitational field.