National Technical Systems (NTS) has completed its series of tests on NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). The satellite is intended to orbit the moon, gathering information about its atmosphere and the conditions of the moon’s surface. It also will monitor the influences of that environment on lunar dust.
LADEE will be home to three main instruments: an ultraviolet and visible light spectrometer (which analyzes light signatures to establish the composition of the atmosphere), a neutral mass spectrometer (that measures variations in the atmosphere over multiple lunar orbits), and a lunar dust experiment (which analyzes collected samples of lunar dust.)
The team at Ames subjected LADEE to a battery of space simulations including severe vibration levels, extreme shock, and high-level acoustics in order to qualify it for travel. NTS and NASA worked in conjunction at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA in order to make sure the tests being performed were thorough and reliable.
The completion of the tests from a physical and functional standpoint certifies the spacecraft for launch and to carry out its designated mission. By using specialized equipment to simulate such extreme environments, the cost-intensive process is minimized by pinpointing and fixing problems before the satellite even launches.
LADEE is set to launch in the late summer of 2013 with the mission lasting approximately 160 days. More information can be found at www.nasa.gov/ladee.