NASA Orbiter Smashes Into Moon (on Purpose)
LADEE ends short mission by disintegrating
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2014 10:13 AM CDT
An artist's concept of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.   (AP Photo/NASA, Dana Berry)

(Newser) – A $280 million orbiter crashed into the moon and disintegrated yesterday, and NASA couldn't be happier about it. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer met its end after completing a mission to orbit the moon and observe its atmosphere that began in September, reports the AP. In fact, LADEE lasted more than a month longer than expected, even surviving a lunar eclipse in its final week.

"It was all serendipitous" scientist Sarah Nobel tells the Christian Science Monitor. "We had no plan, when we launched, to have any kind of extended mission. But we did better than expected on the launch, and all of our fuel margins turned out to be better than we expected ... so we ended up with 140 days of science, instead of 100 days of science." Engineers were able to steer the satellite to the back side of the moon before the crash to avoid destroying any artifacts left behind by astronauts. (The launch of LADEE yielded a crazy photo of a frog leaping at the same time.)

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Showing 3 of 19 comments
Apr 19, 2014 11:26 PM CDT
They only got 40 extra days? Some Mars rovers are doing a lot better than that!
Apr 19, 2014 8:26 PM CDT
They just wanted to put a scare into those crazy old whackjobs in the secret Nazi base.
Apr 19, 2014 3:39 PM CDT
Great! More space junk piling up on the moon now. Couldn't NASA just send it to the Sun to burn up? Have you seen the NASA junk already floating around Earth? Come on NASA be a more responsible Space environment conscience organization.