MOUNTAIN VIEW -- NASA's Ames Research Center has invited the public to a "science day" on Friday evening that will culminate with a live TV screening of the launch of the space agency's latest lunar satellite.
The $280 million mission, called Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), is the first spacecraft designed, developed, built, integrated and tested at NASA Ames, based at Moffett Field in Mountain View.
In its unusually low orbit around the moon's equator, the craft will float through the thin envelope of atmosphere that surrounds the moon, studying the properties of the environment and lunar dust. Scientists say the mission will be important for future lunar explorers, so they know what to expect before they set up their first outposts.
NASA scientists and engineers will be on hand for the event, which will be held at the Ames center from 5 to 9 p.m. The robotic satellite will be launched at 8:27 PDT from an Air Force Minotaur V rocket at NASA's facility on Wallops Island, Va.
The event is free, but space is limited and reservations are required. For tickets, directions to the Ames center and other information, go to www.nasa.gov/ames/events/ladee-science-night.