Europe at the Moon: SMART-1 Highlights
Publication date: 16 August 2006
Authors: B.H. Foing and the SMART-1 team
SMART-1 is Europe's first lunar mission, the current step in developing an international program of lunar exploration. The spacecraft was launched on 23 September 2003 as an Ariane 5 Auxiliary passenger to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), performed a 14 month long cruise using the tiny thrust of electric propulsion alone, reached lunar capture in Nov 2004, and lunar science orbit in March 2005. SMART-1 carries seven hardware experiments (performing 10 investigations, including three remote sensing instruments, used during the cruise, the mission's nominal six months and one year extension in lunar science orbit. The remote sensing instruments contribute to key planetary scientific questions, related to theories of lunar origin and evolution, the global and local crustal composition, the search for cold traps at the lunar poles and the mapping of potential lunar resources.