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In this artist's concept provided by NASA the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft is seen orbiting the moon as it prepares to fire its maneuvering thrusters to maintain a safe orbital altitude. NASA's small moon-orbiting spacecraft LADEE (pronounced LAH'-dee) is no more. Flight controllers confirmed early Friday April 18, 2014 that LADEE crashed into the back side of the moon. (AP Photo/NASA, Dana Berry) Credit: NASA Ames / Dana Berry ----- What is LADEE? The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is designed to study the Moon's thin exosphere and the lunar dust environment. An "exosphere" is an atmosphere that is so thin and tenuous that molecules don't collide with each other. Studying the Moon's exosphere will help scientists understand other planetary bodies with exospheres too, like Mercury and some of Jupiter's bigger moons. The orbiter will determine the density, composition and temporal and spatial variability of the Moon's exosphere to help us understand where the species in the exosphere come from and the role of the solar wind, lunar surface and interior, and meteoric infall as sources. The mission will also examine the density and temporal and spatial variability of dust particles that may get lofted into the atmosphere. The mission also will test several new technologies, including a modular spacecraft bus that may reduce the cost of future deep space missions and demonstrate two-way high rate laser communication for the first time from the Moon. LADEE now is ready to launch when the window opens on Sept. 6, 2013. Read more: http://www.nasa.gov/ladee <b><a href="http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html"rel="nofollow">NASA image use policy.</a></b> <b><a href="http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/home/index.html" rel="nofollow">NASA Goddard Space Flight Center</a></b> enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a lea

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