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Dust measurements at the moon with LADEE-LDEX

October 9, 2013; Ralf Srama

The dust environment of the moon is unknown. Interplanetary micrometeoroids continuously bombard the lunar surface and sputtered dust particles form a faint cloud above the surface. A second dusty phenomenon are dust particles lifted off by electrostatic forces from the surface. How dense is the lunar dust cloud and which altitudes do the particles reach? These questions shall be answered by the mission LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer). The NASA mission LADEE was launched Sep 6, 2013 for an exploration of the lunar atmosphere and dust environment. The NASA website states:

"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." 

The IRS of the University Stuttgart is involved in the test, development, calibration and data analysis of this exciting mission. Calibration tests of LDEX are performed at the Heidelberg Dust Accelerator facility located at MPIK and operated by the University of Stuttgart.

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