SMART-1 Mission Overview
4 August 2006The SMART-1 mission will end on 3 September 2006 when the spacecraft will make a controlled impact with the lunar surface. SMART-1's journey consisted of several phases, an overview of which is given in a new set of dedicated pages.
SMART-1 is a technology demonstrating mission. It is the first European mission to use an Electric Propulsion system, which utilises an ion engine and the electrical input from the spacecraft's solar panels.
In addition to the new propulsion system, SMART-1 has successfully demonstrated several other technologies:
- KaTE: the next generation of radio links between the Earth and distant spacecraft, which are at higher frequencies (Ka-band, 32/34 GHz) to enable more information to be sent over longer distances
- Laser link: communicating though an optical communication link, in which a laser beam is used to convey signals that can cover greater distances than a radio link. The high frequency of an optical laser also permits a very wide bandwidth, allowing a greater amount of information to be transmitted in less time as compared to a radio signal
- OBAN: computer techniques for on-board autonomous navigation
Next to the now completed technology demonstration, the SMART-1 payload continues to perform scientific observations with a suite of instruments:
- AMIE: the ultra-compact electronic camera surveys the lunar terrain using visible and near-infrared light
- SIR: an infrared spectrometer for charting the Moon's mineral composition
- D-CIXS: an X-ray spectrometer to identify key chemical elements in the lunar surface
- XSM: monitoring variations in solar X-ray emissions to support D-CIXS measurements. Also making an independent study of solar variability
- SPEDE: an electrical experiment to observe the Moon's wake in the solar wind from close by
- RSIS: using the KaTE microwave system and the AMIE camera, the RSIS radio experiment measures the nodding of the Moon, which slightly tilts first its north pole and then its south pole towards the Earth
The new set of dedicated pages cover the whole mission from launch to lunar impact, and provide details on the spacecraft's orbit and the operations of the Electric Propulsion system: