The European  Moon probe SMART-1, which was developed by SSC for ESA, has been orbiting the Moon since November 2004. Its main mission, to qualify an electric propulsion system, is completed, and the probe is now making observations of the lunar surface using its scientific instruments onboard. The first scientific results from SMART-1 will be published in connection with an ESA event in February.

The natural effects of gravity from the Sun and the Earth will cause SMART-1 to crash on the lunar surface in August this year. The touch-down will take place in a flat angle near latitude 37 degrees south.  The crash, which may be observed by telescope from Earth, can stir up dust or create other effects that may give valuable information about the lunar surface.

Astronomers are invited to take part in observations of the crash

For the crash to be observable, the touch-down must take place on the part of the Moon that is facing Earth. To enable this, ESA is considering using the small quantity of remaining fuel onboard to modify the spacecraft’s orbit. At present, SSC’s engineers are preparing the necessary rocket impulses. ESA has also distributed a circular letter to scientists to investigate their interest for participation in these observations.

China and India training moon journeys with SMART-1

Apart from making observations of the lunar surface from a gradually lower orbit, SMART-1 will be used by Indian and Chinese ground stations in their training of having radio control with a moon orbiter. Both India and China are preparing launches of spacecraft to the Moon.

For more information, please contact

Peter Rathsman,  project manager for SMART-1, tel +46 8 627 63 14,  or Anna Rathsman, head of corporate communications, tel +46 8 627 62 62.