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.


During a single second, the sun converts 4 million tons of matter into pure energy.