LADEE Spacecraft

LADEE pre-flight

The LADEE spacecraft, pictured above during a pre-flight test run, lifted off from Wallops Island, VA on September 6, 2013.
Image Credit: NASA/Patrick Black

September 10, 2013

Just before midnight on September 6, 2013, NASA's LADEE mission blasted off from a NASA facility on Wallops Island, VA, leaving a visible trail to millions of residents along the U.S's East Coast. In the picture above, you can see the spacecraft sitting in a testing facility at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

LADEE has several instruments on board that will investigate the moon's tenuous atmosphere and the dust residing on and near its surface.

Some of the research will look into dusty plasmas — charged gasses that also suspend small particles such as moon dust. Researchers suspect that incoming UV light from the sun may electrically charge lunar dust, causing the particles to rise above the surface. This phenomenon may account for a pre-sunrise glow seen by Apollo astronauts during their missions to the moon.