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New Nasa spacecraft to investigate moon mystery

Published on Sep 5, 2013 6:01 AM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (REUTERS) - More than 40 years after the last Apollo astronauts left the moon, Nasa is preparing to launch a small robotic spacecraft to investigate one of their most bizarre discoveries.

Crews reported seeing an odd glow on the lunar horizon just before sunrise. The phenomenon, which prompted a notebook sketch by Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan, was unexpected because the airless moon lacked atmosphere for reflecting sunlight.

Scientists began to suspect that dust from the lunar surface was being electrically charged and somehow lofted off the ground, a theory that will be tested by the United States (US) space agency's upcoming Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Experiment.

The spacecraft, known as Ladee, is scheduled to be launched at 11.27pm EDT (11.27pm Singapore time) on Friday (11.27am Singapore time, Saturday) from Nasa's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

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