SMART-1 approaches the Moon: first view of lunar north pole and far side
These two images show the Moon as seen by SMART-1 during the approach phase. The image on the left was taken on 28 October 2004, at a distance of about 600 000 kilometres from the Moon, when the spacecraft was in its last orbit around the Earth. The image on the right was taken on 12 November 2004, about fifteen days later, at a distance of about 600 000 kilometres. At that time, the Moon was facing the Earth with its unlit side (new Moon).
The slightly illuminated part at the top of the Moon (right image) shows a 'slice' of the Moon's far side at about the latitude of the lunar north pole. The north pole far side is seen for the first time by a European spacecraft, and only for the second time in the history of lunar exploration.
The image on the right, is the last shot that the AMIE camera could take before SMART-1 prepared for the delicate manoeuvre that stabilised the spacecraft in a lunar orbit. The manouevre consisted of a burn of the ion engine that lasted for about four days, from 15 to 19 November 2004.