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NASA Contest: Moon Mission to Impact Lunar Far Side – What’s your best guess?

Credit: NASA

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft is gradually lowering its orbital altitude over the moon, as it continues to make important science observations.

But when will it take the plunge?

LADEE mission managers expect the spacecraft will impact of the moon’s surface on or before April 21.

On April 11, ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., will command LADEE to perform its final orbital maintenance maneuver prior to a total lunar eclipse on April 15, when Earth’s shadow passes over the moon.

This eclipse, which will last approximately four hours, exposes the spacecraft to conditions just on the edge of what it was designed to survive.

This final maneuver will ensure that LADEE’s trajectory will impact the far side of the moon, which is not in view of Earth and away from any previous lunar mission landings.

There are no plans to target a particular impact location on the lunar surface, and the exact date and time depends on several factors.

Anyone is eligible to enter the “Take the Plunge: LADEE Impact Challenge.”

Winners will be announced after impact and will be e-mailed a commemorative, personalized certificate from the LADEE program.

The submissions deadline is 3 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, April 11. Only one submission per person and only the first submission counts in the case of a duplicate entry.

For more on the challenge, go to:

http://socialforms.nasa.gov/ladee

By Leonard David

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