It may come as a surprise to most people but it has been nearly 40 years after the Apollo missions and we do not yet fully understand the composition, structure, and variability of the Lunar Atmosphere. This and many other questions regarding the moon’s atmosphere remain unanswered. A further understanding of the lunar atmosphere is required prior to future lunar science missions. Even the suggested existence of water on the lunar atmosphere needs to be studied further.


The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, LADEE, is a NASA mission that seeks to orbit the Moon with the main objective of characterizing the lunar atmosphere and dust environment. The instrument payload of the mission includes a Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS), an Ultraviolet/Visible Spectrometer (UVS), and the Lunar Dust Experiment (LDEX). In addition, the payload will also include the space terminal of Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) to demonstrate the technology.

LADEE is scheduled to launch on May 2013 out of the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and will be the first mission based on the Ames Modular Common Bus Design which for this mission consists of a Minotaur V vehicle with a spin-stabilized upper stage.



[1] G. T. Delory, R. Elphic, T. Morgan, T. Colaprete, M. Horanyi, P. Mahaffy, B. Hine, and D. Boroson, 2009, “The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE),” 40th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

[2] Richard Elphic, Gregory Delory, Anthony Colaprete, Mihaly Horanyi, Paul Mahaffy, Butler Hine, Steven McClard, Joan Salute, Edwin Grayzeck, and Don Boroson, 2011, “NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE),” Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 13, EGU2011-5107-2

[3] NASA Science Website

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