Written by Kyle Stucker
For NASA, it's back to the moon. Sort of.
In an effort to collect information about the moon's atmosphere, a Minotaur V rocket named LADEE, an unmanned robotic spacecraft, is set to be launched Friday from NASA's Wallops Island facility on Virginia's coast.
the mission won't land on the moon, the rocket is designed to orbit it,
marking the first time the Virginia facility will host a launch that
streaks beyond the Earth's orbit.
The night launch should make the rocket visible in much of the Northeast, including the Attleboro area.
Hope for a clear night: The launch window is from 11:27 p.m. to 11:31 p.m. Forecasts for the Southcoast area calls for clear skies the night before the launch.
The idea is to get the small car-sized Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) to orbit the moon "to gather detailed information about the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere and determine whether dust is being lofted into the lunar sky," according to NASA.
"A thorough understanding of these
characteristics of our nearest celestial neighbor will help researchers
understand other bodies in the solar system, such as large asteroids,
Mercury, and the moons of outer planets," said NASA o
The rocket will be operated by a Virginia corporation, Orbital Sciences of Dulles.