Meet LADEE, NASA's Next Moon Probe: Small Probe, Big Science (Photo)
A 1:1 scale model of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft on display at the space agency's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. Image released on Sept. 6, 2013.
Credit: Miriam Kramer/

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. — NASA's next moon-bound probe may look relatively small in person, but it's responsible for potentially answering some big moon mysteries. NASA officials have placed a full-scale model of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft in the lobby here at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, to represent the real LADEE (pronounced "laddie" not "lady") that is currently stored away inside its Minotaur V rocket, ready to launch later tonight (Sept. 6).

The loveseat-sized LADEE probe is scheduled to launch from Virginia's eastern shore at 11:27 p.m. EDT (0327 Sept. 7 GMT), and the weather looks beautiful. The spacecraft is tasked with a good deal of lunar science investigations, set to explore the moon's atmosphere and dust during its 100 days of science. [How to See the Launch of NASA's Next Moon Probe]

At 7.7-feet by 4.7-feet (2.4 meters by 1.9 meters), the LADEE spacecraft would be dwarfed by comparison to the car-sized 1 ton Mars Curiosity rover. But weather permitting, the rocket carrying LADEE will put on a big show for observers along the East Coast of the United States. LADEE's launch can be seen from sites along the East Coast of the United States.

Editor's Note: If you take an amazing photo of the LADEE launch or any other night sky view that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at

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