NASA's LADEE spacecraft purposely crashes into moon

By Kyle Johnson,

As planned, NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer smashed into the moon Friday.

Ahead of the crash, the LADEE craft was only about 300 feet above the moon's surface on Thursday night, reports the Associated Press. Then, at 3,600 mph, the spacecraft impacted on the dark side of the moon.

It is believed that due to the extremely fast speed, there would likely be nothing left of LADEE, but ahead of the crash project scientist Rick Elphic said, "It's bound to make a dent."

Scientists at NASA weren't sure the spacecraft would survive long enough to crash, as it had been in use past its planned 100-day mission and dealt with continually cold temperatures thanks to the lunar eclipse. But fuel reserves held out long enough, and the cold only caused a few sensors to act up.

Project manager Butler Hine said, "Having flown through the eclipse and survived, the team is actually feeling very good." Ahead of the lunar impact, Hine noted that though everyone was in good spirits, they weren't sure when it would finally crash.

LADEE orbited the moon after its September launch, as previously reported. The spacecraft's mission was to collect data on the lunar atmosphere and dust. Once it ran dry on fuel, it was set to smash into the moon in an effort to collect a little extra data before becoming unusable.

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