Sun-Earth Days 2013

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Sun-Earth Days 2013

Live Web Cast on September 6th with NASA EDGE!

From Wallops to the Moon, LADEE logo

NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environmental Explorer (LADEE)

LADEE is a robotic mission that will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust. A thorough understanding of these characteristics will address long-standing unknowns.

Launch Date September 6, 2013
Launch Site Wallops Flight Facility
Launch Vehicle Minotaur V
Duration of Mission 160 days- 30 days to reach the Moon, 30 days check out, 100 days science op

Onboard, LADEE will include three science instruments and a technology demonstration. Instruments will include a dust detector, a neutral mass spectrometer, and an ultraviolet-visible spectrometer, as well as a technology demonstration, a laser communications (lasercom) terminal.

Ultraviolet and Visible Light Spectrometer: will determine the composition of the lunar atmosphere by analyzing light signatures of materials it finds UV-Vis Spectrometer (UVS), which will measure both the dust and atmosphere.

Neutral Mass Spectrometer: will measure variations in the lunar atmosphere over multiple lunar orbits with the moon in different space environments.

Lunar Dust Experiment: will collect and analyze samples of any lunar dust particles in the tenuous atmosphere. These measurements will help scientists address a mystery: was lunar dust, electrically charged by solar ultraviolet light, responsible for pre-sunrise horizon glow that Apollo astronauts saw?

Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration: will demonstrate the use of lasers instead of radio waves to achieve broadband speeds to communicate with Earth.

LADEE is a strategic mission that will address three major science goals:

  • Determine the global density, composition, and time variability of the fragile lunar atmosphere before it is perturbed by further human activity;
  • Determine if the Apollo astronaut sightings of diffuse emission at tens of kilometers above the surface were sodium glow or dust and;
  • Document the dust impact or environment (size-frequency) to help guide design engineering for the outpost and also future robotic missions.


On April 8, 1947, the largest sunspot in modern history reached its maximum size of over 330 times Earth's area.