SMART I preparing for Impact... Jun 25, 2006 22:46:18 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 25, 2006 22:46:18 GMT -6
SMART-1 Maneuvers Prepare For Mission End
Darmstadt, Germany (SPX) Jun 26, 2006
After 16 months orbiting the Moon, ESA's lunar mission is preparing for the end of its scientific exploration. Last Monday, SMART-1 mission controllers initiated a 17-day series of maneuvers aimed at positioning the spacecraft to enhance science data return as the mission winds down.
SMART-1, Europe's successful first Moon mission, is scheduled to end on Sept. 3, impacting on the lunar surface in a disposal plan similar to that of many earlier missions and almost three years to the day after its 2003 launch.
With the maneuvers, ESA controllers aim to avoid having the spacecraft impact on the Moon at a disadvantageous time - from a scientific point of view - which would have happened on or about Aug. 17 if the spacecraft had been allowed to continue on its present trajectory.
Instead, the extension of the mission will provide new opportunities for low-altitude scientific observations and optimum science returns during and after the spacecraft's controlled impact.
In preparation for mission end, controllers at ESA's Spacecraft Operations Center have started a series of thruster firings to give a delta velocity, or change in velocity, of approximately 12 meters (39 feet) per second.
This action will raise the orbit perilune (point of closest passage over the Moon) by about 90 kilometers (56 miles) and will shift the impact date to Sept. 3.
"The shift in date, time and location for Moon intersection is also optimized to favor scientific observations from Earth," said Gerhard Schwehm, ESA's SMART-1 mission manager.
It should be a nice impact for telescopes, but where are the Apollo landing sites that SMART imaged? Something must have been recorded, soil disturbance, decent stage shadows, booster rocket impacts etc... Something!...