Categorized | Sci-Tech

PISCES intern attends rocket launch

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. LADEE is a robotic mission designed to orbit the moon where and provide unprecedented information about the environment around the moon and give scientists a better understanding of other planetary bodies in our solar system and beyond. (Photo courtesy of Chris Perry | NASA)

A Minotaur V rocket carrying NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) lifts off from at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013. LADEE is a robotic mission designed to orbit the moon where and provide unprecedented information about the environment around the moon and give scientists a better understanding of other planetary bodies in our solar system and beyond. (Photo courtesy of Chris Perry | NASA)

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

PISCES Akamai Workforce Initiative intern, Krystal Schlechter, concluded her work with PISCES in an explosive way – literally.

Krystal Schlechter

Krystal Schlechter

Thanks to donations through PISCES fundraising efforts, the UH Hilo student and her mentor, John Hamilton, PISCES test logistics/education and public outreach manager witnessed NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) Mission blast off Friday in Virginia.

Schlechter is a UHH sophomore majoring in astronomy. She was hired for the PISCES 2013 Summer Intern Program through the Akamai Workforce Initiative, and her main task was to collect data for LADEE (pronounced “laddie,” not “lady”).

LADEE is a $263 million project designed to unlock the mysteries of the moon’s fragile atmosphere. Studying and understanding the moon’s environment is key to figuring out how to live there.

The mission involves launching a nearly 850 pound robotic spacecraft on top of a U.S. Air Force Minotaur V rocket, which is an excess ballistic missile converted into a space launch vehicle.

It will take LADEE 2.5 months to reach the Moon, check its instruments, and get situated into its designated orbit before starting its 100-day mission to gather information about the Moon’s exosphere (the very thin, outermost layer of the Moon’s atmosphere) as well as its lunar dust environment.

And studying the lunar dust is where Schlechter’s work comes in. Some of the dust in the moon’s exosphere may likely be caused by meteors that hit the moon and propel lunar debris.

Schlechter and Hamilton spent the summer measuring the impact and frequency of these meteor strikes on the far side of the moon.

They used two 11-inch Celestron telescopes equipped with high speed video cameras to collect the data for LADEE, which NASA will use to learn more about the moon’s lunar dust environment and help quantify the possible dangers inherent with living on the moon.

NASA invited Schlechter and Hamilton to be a part of the official launch efforts and join the public outreach activities at the Wallops Island Visitor Center.

— Find out more:
www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/lad…

John Hamilton

John Hamilton

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