SMART crater on the Moon

September 4, 2012
SMART-1 ended its journey in the Lake of Excellence at 34ºS / 46ºW at 05:42:22 GMT on 3 September 2006. The approximate impact site is indicated in the image, which is part of a much larger mosaic created during SMART-1’s final orbits of the Moon. The images were obtained by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE). Credit: ESA/Space-X (Space Exploration Institute)

(Phys.org)—On the morning of 3 September 2006, a brief flash illuminated the Moon's 'Lake of Excellence' as ESA's SMART-1 mission met its fate on the dusty surface.

Launched in 2003, SMART-1 was the first European spacecraft to travel to and orbit the Moon.

Short for Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology, SMART-1 used to journey to the Moon, tested new techniques in communications and navigation, and carried a battery of miniaturised scientific instruments.

It completed a comprehensive inventory of key in the lunar surface, mapped impact craters, studied the volcanic and tectonic processes that shaped the Moon, and investigated sites for future exploration.

Like many of its predecessors doomed by the , SMART-1 was always destined to meet its fate on the lunar surface.

Six years ago today, the satellite was deliberately crashed at the site circled in this image, which lies within a region known as the Lake of Excellence, located at mid-southern latitudes on the lunar near-side.

The image is part of a larger mosaic taken during the spacecraft's final orbits of the Moon and captures a variety of : volcanic plains, hills and impact craters of varying size.

SMART-1 likely struck the side of a hill at a low angle of 5–10 degrees and a speed of about 2 km/s.

Observatories around the world saw the resulting impact flash and cloud of dust thrown up by the impact.

Estimates suggest that SMART-1 left a crater 3–10 m wide and perhaps a metre deep. Using new high-resolution data, scientists hope to locate the .  

Explore further: SMART-1's tribute to Cassini

Related Stories

SMART-1's tribute to Cassini

June 20, 2005

This image from SMART-1 was dedicated to the Cassini-Huygens mission team at the occasion of the European Geoscience Union conference in Vienna, April 2005, when new results from both missions were presented.

Close-up on Cuvier crater ridge

August 22, 2006

This high-resolution image, taken by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows the young crater ‘Cuvier C’ on the Moon.

SMART-1 maps its own impact site

August 31, 2006

This mosaic of images, obtained by the Advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft, shows the SMART-1 landing site on the Moon.

Close-up on highlands near crater Pentland

September 29, 2006

This high-resolution image, taken by the advanced Moon Imaging Experiment (AMIE) on board ESA’s SMART-1 spacecraft, shows an area close to crater Pentland on the Moon.

Recommended for you

At Saturn, one of these rings is not like the others

September 2, 2015

When the sun set on Saturn's rings in August 2009, scientists on NASA's Cassini mission were watching closely. It was the equinox—one of two times in the Saturnian year when the sun illuminates the planet's enormous ring ...

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Prawn Nebula: Cosmic recycling

September 2, 2015

Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later ...

Image: Hubble sees a youthful cluster

August 31, 2015

Shown here in a new image taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on board the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is the globular cluster NGC 1783. This is one of the biggest globular clusters in the Large Magellanic ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.