Flight controllers of Ames, NASA has confirmed that its automatic Ladee probe crashed in the lunar soil, on the far side of the satellite, as planned but still have not located the lunar impact. The device, the size of a vending machine for drinks, had virtually ran out of the fuel and, since the end of the mission, was in a very low orbit, under two miles above the lunar soil. The heads of the mission do not know exactly where to look but plan to find the impact site using images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, also NASA, which is operational there. The impact occurred on April 17. Yes, the Pivot survived the total lunar eclipse on the 15th, when it was subjected to super-low temperatures on the lunar shadow and powered exclusively by batteries for several hours.
“At the moment of impact, Ladee traveled nearly 6,000 miles per hour, about three times the speed of a bullet,” said Rick Elphic, chief scientist for the mission. ” The impact at that kind of speed can not be smooth, so the only question is whether the Ladee made a new crater on a slope or if the remains were scattered in a flat area.
On April 11, the probe made a last maneuver prepared by mission controllers to ensure impact trajectory on the far side of the Moon with the intention not to jeopardize any relegation places other missions, especially Apollo, NASA said.
The Pivot was launched into space last September and began its scientific mission in lunar orbit on November 10. It was planned that worked hundred days, but the end of that time their onboard instruments were operational and mission lasted until the end. In fact, scientists have used data taken in recent days, in a low orbit. Its aim was to study the tenuous lunar atmosphere, its structure and composition.
NASA claims they received thousands of bets on the Internet club which was predicting the exact time of the final impact of the Pivot on the moon and send the winners a certificate card.