Liftoff! NASA Moon Probe Launches from Va. to Hunt 40-Year Lunar Mystery
By Miriam Kramer
WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — NASA began a new trek to the moon Friday night with a dazzling launch from Virginia that sent a spacecraft soaring toward Earth's nearest neighbor to probe the thin lunar atmosphere and, just maybe, solve a 40-year space mystery.
The spacecraft, called the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE for short), launched into space Friday, Sept. 6, at 11:27 p.m. EDT (0327 Sept. 7 GMT) atop a Minotaur V rocket. It marked the first moon shot from Virginia and the maiden voyage of the Minotaur V rocket — space firsts witnessed by thousands of spectators who watched the launch soar from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility here. . . .
Probing a moon mystery
. . . The $280 million LADEE moon mission is tasked with digging up the dirt on lunar dust and the moon's atmosphere. The three science instruments on the spacecraft will investigate the moon's extremely thin atmosphere and a moon dust mystery dating back to before the Apollo-era.
The Surveyor 7 lander, launched in 1968, recorded a glow from the surface of the moon on the horizon before sunrise. NASA's Apollo astronauts also saw the moon glow and scientists think it could be caused by extremely small particles of dust being lofted high into the moon's atmosphere. . . .
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