Friday, November 22, 2013

China's 1st Moon Lander May Cause Trouble for NASA Lunar Dust Mission

by Leonard David,'s Space Insider Columnist | November 21, 2013 06:45am ET

The Chang’e 3 lunar lander and moon rover
Credit: Beijing Institute of Spacecraft System Engineering
China’s mission to robotically land on the moon next month is sure to stir up lunar dust, but it may also cause a political dust up, too.

China is in the final stages of preparing its robotic Chang’e 3 moon lander to launch atop a Long March 3B rocket, slated for liftoff in early December. The ambitious mission is built to first orbit the moon, then propel down to a landing site, after which a small, solar-powered lunar rover will be unleashed.

Already on duty orbiting the moon is NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). The probe’s science instrument commissioning is now underway, after which the spacecraft will drop down to the lower lunar science orbit and start the full science phase of the mission. [NASA's LADEE Moon Mission in Photos]

LADEE Readies for Orbital Maneuvering Thruster Burn
Credit: NASA Ames/Dana Berry

LADEE is designed to study the moon’s thin exosphere and the lunar dust environment. However, there is concern that China’s ambitious Chang’e 3 mission could impact LADEE’s science goals.

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