After 8 months in space, the LADEE spacecraft mission came to a close last night when the spacecraft crash-landed into the moon's surface — just like scientists intended.
Since its launch in September of last year, LADEE has been sending back new information about the lunar atmosphere, as well as images of the moon itself. Beginning in early April, LADEE has been skimming right above the moon's surface at an altitude that brought it just a mile above that surface.
The spacecraft hit the moon last night at 3,600 mph — at a velocity three times faster than a speeding bullet (take THAT, Superman). Most of the spacecraft is suspected to have broken apart or vaporized on impact, but it's possible that the crash created a brand new crater on the moon at its impact site.
Just when the precise moment of the crash would come was a matter of some speculation, with NASA holding a contest to guess the precise time. So, if you had April 17 between 9:30-10:22 PDT in the pool, congratulations!
More details on just when the precise moment of the crash, and perhaps even a look at its crater, are set to come as NASA examines the site through pictures from the LRO.
Image: A chance encounter between the LRO's camera and LADEE, marked with the arrow, in January / NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University