At 4pm AEST, Apr 18th, NASA spectacularly ended the successful Ladee (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) spacecraft’s 100-day exploration of the Moon by intentionally crashing it into the Lunar surface.
Swinburne University of Technology astronomer Dr Alan Duffy said this was no joy ride but rather a unique opportunity to recreate a famous observation by Apollo astronauts who saw a still unexplained mysterious glow on the horizon just before sunrise.
“Ladee has taught us much about the Moon’s thin atmosphere, as well as a testing out a new laser ‘broadband’ link between Earth and the Moon that’s fast enough to stream Netflix, but after 100 days its fuel had run out and this was a chance to get one last scientific result from the craft.
''By intentionally crashing into the far-side of the Moon we can preserve the historical Apollo mission landing sites from disturbance,” Dr Duffy said.
“Future astronauts can probably forget about souvenir hunting at the crash site as Ladee hit the ground at around 1600m/s (5670 km/h) meaning the only trace of this wonderful spacecraft will be a brand new crater on the Moon.”
For more information about Ladee visit the NASA here.
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Video on this story can be found here.
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