China's lunar mission could affect NASA's moon dust explorer

11/21/2013 | Space.com

China's Chang'e 3 moon lander mission next month may pose some challenges for NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, already orbiting the moon. "The arrival of the Chang'e 3 spacecraft into lunar orbit and then its descent to the surface will result in a significant contamination of the lunar exosphere by the propellant," said space scientist Jeff Plescia, who chairs the U.S. space agency's Lunar Exploration Analysis Group. Plescia acknowledged that Chang'e 3's landing could pose problems, but also noted that it will give the U.S. craft an opportunity to study how propellant is distributed and later removed from the lunar exosphere.

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