10:59 p.m. PDT Thursday, April 17

Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft has impacted the surface of the moon, as planned. Additional information will be posted as it becomes available here at: http://www.nasa.gov/ladee

Click here for previous status updates

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE, pronounced like “laddie”) is a robotic mission on its way to 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, and help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well.

The spacecraft was successfully launched at 11:27 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 6, from Pad 0B at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. Visit http://www.nasa.gov/ladee for this week’s status updates.

LADEE is managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

Previous Status Updates

Oct. 17, 2013: During the NASA shutdown, the LADEE mission continued to perform its critical maneuvers and capture into the commissioning orbit around the moon. The trajectory correction maneuver (TCM-1) was completed on Oct. 1, and set the spacecraft to rendezvous with the moon on Oct. 6. The Neutral mass Spectrometer (NMS) cap ejection on Oct. 3 was successful. The first Lunar Orbit Insertion maneuver (LOI-1) on Oct. 6 was very accurate, and required no course adjustments afterward. This is impressive performance of the propulsion system, given the size of the LOI-1 burn. This maneuver put the spacecraft in a 24-hour elliptical lunar orbit. The LOI-2 maneuver on Oct. 9 also was very accurate, putting LADEE into a 4-hour elliptic lunar orbit. The third and final LOI-3 burn occurred on Oct. 12, and put the spacecraft into the 2-hour commissioning orbit (roughly 235 Km x 250 Km). The LADEE spacecraft commissioning activities are now complete, and the instrument commissioning activities have begun. The LDEX and UVS aliveness activities were completed successfully on Oct. 16, with both instrument covers deployed. These instrument cover deployments were the last remaining planned critical events for the mission. All critical maneuvers and all instrument cover deployments are completed at this point. The science instrument commissioning and lasercom primary experiment will be conducted through mid-Nov., at which point the spacecraft will start to drop down to the lower lunar science orbit.

Sept. 30, 2013: LADEE currently is racing towards its final perigee swing-by of Earth tonight, prior to heading outward to meet the moon on Sunday, Oct. 6. On the way out, a small Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM-1) will be performed on Tuesday, Oct. 1, around 3 p.m. PDT. This will fine-tune LADEE’s arrival time at the moon. The TCM-1 maneuver command products have been generated and verified, in preparation for this burn, which will be done using the small attitude control thrusters, rather than the large main engine.

Sept. 27, 2013: The LADEE spacecraft is past apogee – the point when it is farthest from Earth – and is headed back toward Earth for a final fly-by on Tuesday, Oct 1, 2013. The last perigee maneuver – when the spacecraft was closest to Earth – was perfect, so no maneuver will be needed during the fly-by.  The mission operations team at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., performed a test of LADEE’s medium gain antenna for the first time, and everything looks good.  This antenna will be used to transmit science data to the ground, once LADEE arrives in lunar orbit.

Sept. 23, 2013: Analysis of the perigee maneuver main engine burn performed Saturday, Sept. 21, confirms that the burn was extremely accurate. This means that some of the later maneuvers, such as the last perigee burn (PM-3), may not be needed at all. The LADEE Flight Dynamics team is currently assessing the possibilities, and will make their recommendation soon.

Sept. 22, 2013: After the successful perigee engine burn maneuver yesterday, the LADEE spacecraft continues outward from Earth in its third phasing loop orbit.  The final science instrument, the Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX), has completed its initial activation tests, so all of the LADEE instruments have now been checked out after launch.

Sept. 21, 2013: LADEE just successfully completed the second perigee maneuver today.  This main engine burn places the observatory on the required phasing loop orbit to arrive at the Moon on Oct 6th as planned.  During the maneuver, the spacecraft passed through another Earth shadow eclipse, and the power system responded normally.

Sept. 20, 2013: LADEE continues in the phasing loops, and is approaching the next critical perigee maneuver early Saturday morning at 4:53 a.m. PDT.  The plans for the maneuver have been generated and verified, and backup plans prepared to handle any unexpected events that might crop up during the maneuver.  The spacecraft systems are healthy and the trajectory looks very good.

Sept. 19, 2013LADEE continues performing instrument checkout and calibration activities.  The Neutral Mass Spectrometer Argon and Helium Baseline activities are complete, and the telemetry data have been transmitted to the ground.  This completes the nominal NMS activities prior to ejecting the instrument cover later in the mission.

Sept. 18, 2013The LADEE operations team has completed more science instrument activities.  The Neutral Mass Spectrometer has performed cap ejection preparation, as well as peak spectra calibration.  The Ultraviolet-Visible Spectrometer has performed another dark calibration and is now in bake-out, where the instrument is held at higher temperatures in order to boil off any contaminants.  The spacecraft has flown through apogee, and is now on its way back towards Earth in the second phasing loop orbit.

Sept. 17, 2013: The initial electrical tests of the Lunar Lasercom Spacecraft Terminal (LLST) carried by the LADEE spacecraft were successfully completed yesterday.  These tests did not involve optical transmission to-from Earth yet, but checked all of the systems to make sure they survived the launch and are ready to perform the later experiments.

Sept. 16, 2013: LADEE is still performing normally.  Both the Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS) and the Ultraviolet-Visible Spectrometer (UVS) teams report that their instruments are healthy based on the initial tests performed this weekend.

Sept. 15, 2013: The LADEE spacecraft is still performing well.  The team just completed some initial science instrument checkout tests.  The protective covers are still on all of the instruments, so these tests power up and check the instrument electronics.  The Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS) aliveness and performance tests are complete, and the Ultraviolet-Visible Spectrometer (UVS) dark calibration test is complete.  The instrument teams have downloaded the data from these tests and are evaluating them.

Sept. 14, 2013: The spacecraft continues to be in good health.  The engineering team is assessing Perigee Maneuver 1 telemetry from yesterday.  The early performance analysis look very good so far.

Sept. 13, 2013 update #2: We have successfully completed the Perigee Maneuver (PM-1) main engine burn.   Flight Dynamics preliminarily reports that it was a good burn, and will confirm later in the orbit through ranging.  The spacecraft is back in Fine Pointing Mode, and did not go into safe mode before or after the burn.  The spacecraft also successfully went through its first eclipse, and operated as expected.

Sept. 13, 2013 update #1: The first LADEE Phasing Loop Perigree Maneuver (PM-1) has been uploaded and started on the spacecraft, with the planned main engine burn at 9:38 a.m. PDT.  The spacecraft is operating normally.

Sept. 12, 2013: The LADEE spacecraft completed the AM-1b maneuver yesterday.   We are currently in fine pointing mode, and everything looks good.  The post-burn engineering assessment is that the main engine performed very well with no issues.

Sept. 11, 2013 update #2: The AM-1 maneuver was successfully performed at 4 p.m. PDT today, Sept. 11.  This was an engineering test of the main Orbital Control System (OCS) thruster, which is the big main thruster sticking out of the bottom of the spacecraft. It will be critical for our big Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI-1 burn) on Oct 6.

Sept. 11, 2013 update #1: At around 7 a.m. PDT Sept. 10, the spacecraft went into safe mode due to an alignment error between the two star tracker camera heads, affecting the rate estimator when the sun occludes one of the cameras. We corrected the alignment error, and came out of safe mode this morning, Sept. 11, to resume normal operations.

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