From an orbit as low as about 31 miles above the lunar surface, LADEE also will probe the thin pocket of gases surrounding the moon.
The moon’s atmosphere, which contains argon, helium, sodium, potassium and other elements, may hold clues about how water came to be trapped inside craters on the moon’s frozen poles.
LADEE’s month-long journey to the moon includes three highly elliptical passes around Earth, timed so that during the final orbit the probe will be far enough away to be captured by the moon’s gravity after LADEE fires its braking rocket.
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