NASA's Moon-Orbiting Robot Crashes Down as Planned - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

NASA's Moon-Orbiting Robot Crashes Down as Planned

NASA's Moon-Orbiting Robot Crashes Down as Planned

Posted: Updated:
(Photo: NASA) (Photo: NASA)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP/WBOC) - NASA's robotic moon explorer, LADEE, is no more.
    
Flight controllers confirmed Friday that the orbiting spacecraft crashed into the back side of the moon as planned, just three days after surviving a full lunar eclipse, something it was never designed to do.
    
Researchers believe LADEE likely vaporized when it hit because of its extreme orbiting speed of 3,600 mph, possibly smacking into a mountain or side of a crater. No debris would have been left behind.
    
"It's bound to make a dent," project scientist Rick Elphic predicted Thursday.
    
By Thursday evening, the spacecraft had been skimming the lunar surface at an incredibly low altitude of 300 feet. Its orbit had been lowered on purpose last week to ensure a crash by Monday following an extraordinarily successful science mission.
    
LADEE - short for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer - was launched in September from Wallops Island, Virginia. From the outset, NASA planned to crash the spacecraft into the back side of the moon, far from the Apollo artifacts left behind during the moonwalking days of 1969 to 1972.
    
It completed its primary 100-day science mission last month and was on overtime. The extension had LADEE flying during Tuesday morning's lunar eclipse; its instruments were not designed to endure such prolonged darkness and cold.
    
But the small spacecraft survived - it's about the size of a vending machine - with just a couple pressure sensors acting up.
    
The mood in the control center at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., was upbeat late Thursday afternoon, according to project manager Butler Hine.
    
"Having flown through the eclipse and survived, the team is actually feeling very good," Hine told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
    
But the uncertainty of the timing of LADEE's demise had the flight controllers "on edge," he said.
    
As it turns out, LADEE succumbed within several hours of Hine's comments. NASA announced its end early Friday morning.
    
It will be at least a day or two before NASA knows precisely where the spacecraft ended up; the data cutoff indicates it smashed into the far side of the moon, although just barely.
    
LADEE did not have enough fuel to remain in lunar orbit much beyond the end of its mission. It joined dozens if not scores of science satellites and Apollo program spacecraft parts that have slammed into the moon's surface, on purpose, over the decades, officials said. Until LADEE, the most recent man-made impact was the LCROSS crater-observing satellite that went down in 2009.
    
During its $280 million mission, LADEE identified various components of the thin lunar atmosphere - neon, magnesium and titanium, among others - and studied the dusty veil surrounding the moon, created by all the surface particles kicked up by impacting micrometeorites.
    
"LADEE's science cup really overfloweth," Elphic said earlier this month. "LADEE, by going to the moon, has actually allowed us to visit other worlds with similar tenuous atmospheres and dusty environments."
    
  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Dover Leaders Say High-Crime Areas Will be Saturated With Police

    Dover Leaders Say High-Crime Areas Will be Saturated With Police

    Friday, May 26 2017 8:40 PM EDT2017-05-27 00:40:44 GMT
    Friday, May 26 2017 11:23 PM EDT2017-05-27 03:23:35 GMT

    DOVER, Del. -- After a number of shooting incidents in recent weeks, Dover's mayor and police chief on Friday announced officers will be focusing their efforts in high-crime areas in the city. Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the effort comes after the city has seen more than 20 shooting incidents in 2017 and at a time when the summer is fast approaching and children and teenagers will be leaving school. "We are not going to ease up on the people that are using our city to c...

    More

    DOVER, Del. -- After a number of shooting incidents in recent weeks, Dover's mayor and police chief on Friday announced officers will be focusing their efforts in high-crime areas in the city. Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the effort comes after the city has seen more than 20 shooting incidents in 2017 and at a time when the summer is fast approaching and children and teenagers will be leaving school. "We are not going to ease up on the people that are using our city to c...

    More
  • OC Business Owner Fined for Selling Out-of-State Cigarettes

    OC Business Owner Fined for Selling Out-of-State Cigarettes

    Friday, May 26 2017 4:10 PM EDT2017-05-26 20:10:08 GMT
    Friday, May 26 2017 11:22 PM EDT2017-05-27 03:22:32 GMT

    Ocean City Police  uncovered a cigarette smuggling scheme that resulted in the criminal citation of a local businessman for violating Maryland tax regulations. 

    More

    Ocean City Police  uncovered a cigarette smuggling scheme that resulted in the criminal citation of a local businessman for violating Maryland tax regulations. 

    More
  • Man Found Guilty of Assault After Punching Correctional Officer

    Man Found Guilty of Assault After Punching Correctional Officer

    Friday, May 26 2017 7:57 PM EDT2017-05-26 23:57:58 GMT
    Friday, May 26 2017 11:21 PM EDT2017-05-27 03:21:36 GMT
    Eric Dolby was already serving a life sentence for burning a man alive.Eric Dolby was already serving a life sentence for burning a man alive.

    A 27-year-old Wilmington man, already serving a life sentence for the 2008 murder of a Dover man, has been convicted by a superior court jury of assault in a detention facility. 

    More

    A 27-year-old Wilmington man, already serving a life sentence for the 2008 murder of a Dover man, has been convicted by a superior court jury of assault in a detention facility. 

    More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Man Found Guilty of Assault After Punching Correctional Officer

    Man Found Guilty of Assault After Punching Correctional Officer

    Friday, May 26 2017 7:57 PM EDT2017-05-26 23:57:58 GMT
    Friday, May 26 2017 11:21 PM EDT2017-05-27 03:21:36 GMT
    Eric Dolby was already serving a life sentence for burning a man alive.Eric Dolby was already serving a life sentence for burning a man alive.

    A 27-year-old Wilmington man, already serving a life sentence for the 2008 murder of a Dover man, has been convicted by a superior court jury of assault in a detention facility. 

    More

    A 27-year-old Wilmington man, already serving a life sentence for the 2008 murder of a Dover man, has been convicted by a superior court jury of assault in a detention facility. 

    More
  • Teen Hospitalized After OC Hotel Fall

    Teen Hospitalized After OC Hotel Fall

    Thursday, May 25 2017 9:48 PM EDT2017-05-26 01:48:06 GMT
    Friday, May 26 2017 7:22 AM EDT2017-05-26 11:22:21 GMT

    Ocean City police say a 17-year-old boy was hospitalized after falling from an unknown height at a hotel in Ocean City on Thursday afternoon.

    More

    Ocean City police say a 17-year-old boy was hospitalized after falling from an unknown height at a hotel in Ocean City on Thursday afternoon.

    More
  • Maryland State Police Make Large-Scale Drug Bust Spanning 5 Counties, Including Del

    Maryland State Police Make Large-Scale Drug Bust Spanning 5 Counties, Including Del

    Friday, May 26 2017 8:38 AM EDT2017-05-26 12:38:42 GMT
    Friday, May 26 2017 8:46 AM EDT2017-05-26 12:46:05 GMT

    Maryland State Police and several other law enforcement agencies arrested 18 people in four Maryland counties and one Delaware county, connected to a large scale distribution of opioids, in which police say an estimated $130,000 worth of drugs were recovered along with $98,000 in cash.

    More

    Maryland State Police and several allied law enforcement agencies arrested 18 people in four Maryland counties and one Delaware county, connected to a large-scale distribution of opioids, in which police say an estimated $130,000 worth of drugs were recovered along with $98,000 in cash.

    More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Sussex Tech Softball Wins, Wears Pink for Injured Teammate

    Sussex Tech Softball Wins, Wears Pink for Injured Teammate

  • Dover Leaders Say High-Crime Areas Will be Saturated With Police

    Dover Leaders Say High-Crime Areas Will be Saturated With Police

    After a number of shooting incidents in recent weeks, Dover's mayor and police chief on Friday announced officers will be focusing their efforts in high-crime areas in the city.

    Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the effort comes after the city has seen more than 20 shooting incidents in 2017 and at a time when the summer is fast approaching and children and teenagers will be leaving school.

    More

    After a number of shooting incidents in recent weeks, Dover's mayor and police chief on Friday announced officers will be focusing their efforts in high-crime areas in the city.

    Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen said the effort comes after the city has seen more than 20 shooting incidents in 2017 and at a time when the summer is fast approaching and children and teenagers will be leaving school.

    More
  • Historic Seaford Diner Torn Down

    Historic Seaford Diner Torn Down

    One of the last remaining 1950's diner cars on Delmarva is now nothing but rubble.

    The Seaford Eagle Diner was ripped down Tuesday morning so the owners can re-build a new restaurant on site. Owner Serkan Darilmaz says the diner was in such bad shape that renovating it would've come at an astronomical cost.

    More

    One of the last remaining 1950's diner cars on Delmarva is now nothing but rubble.

    The Seaford Eagle Diner was ripped down Tuesday morning so the owners can re-build a new restaurant on site. Owner Serkan Darilmaz says the diner was in such bad shape that renovating it would've come at an astronomical cost.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices