A NASA spacecraft found the place at which one of the earlier space probes of NASA slammed into the surface of Earth’s satellite around 6 months earlier.
A new lunar crater was captured by the Agency’s LRO (Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter) which the researchers believe is the grave of NASA’s LADEE probe, a mission in which the spacecraft intentionally crashed itself on the moon’s surface, ending its mission on April 18, 2014.
The grave of LADEE lies around 0.8 kilometers from the eastern rim of the Sundman V crater, according to the NASA officials.
“I’m happy that the LROC team was able to confirm the LADEE impact point,” LADEE project manager Butler Hine, of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, said in a statement. (LROC is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera aboard LRO, which captured the images). “It really helps the LADEE team to get closure and know exactly where the product of their hard work wound up.”
The newer crater is smaller than 3 meters in width and the small size is due to the fact that LADEE was also relatively smaller and the probe was travelling slowly when it crashed to the surface.
The researchers further add that the LROC team was able to find the crater by LADEE after making a new tool which compared the previous and later images of the same lunar sites.
LADEE, which stands for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, costed 280 million dollars and was a mission launched in September with the mission to gather details about the moon’s atmosphere and also learn more about lunar dust. It completed its mission and was crashed intentionally due to its fuel running out.
“With LRO, NASA will study our nearest celestial neighbor for at least two more years,” said LRO project scientist John Keller, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “LRO continues to increase our understanding of the moon and its environment.”