And as Dragon goes up, LADEE goes down….

Actually, it went down late last night.  But RIP LADEE, NASA’s latest lunar mission.  LADEE’s mission was always meant to end this way, a consequence of the low orbit it required to conduct its mission passing through the moon’s lumpy gravitational field and extremely tenuous atmosphere, and gradually easing lower to get ever more sensitive measurements.  NASA does not yet know exactly where it came down, but have a general idea, and expect they’ll find the impact site by searching through LRO imagery over the next few weeks.  LADEE survived the eclipse last Tuesday, but ultimately succumbed to the inexorable pull of gravity.  It was actually predicted to impact Sunday or MOnday, so it actually came down a little ahead of schedule.  But the Moon’s mascons make lunar navigation difficult, especially as you get close, so a precise date was never possible.

Now comes the next part of the mission: analyzing the data it returned!


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