SMART-1 Status Report - November 2006
The impact took place on the nearside of the Moon, in a dark area just near the terminator at a grazing angle of between 5°-10° and a speed of about 2 kilometres per second. The impact time and location were planned to favour observations of the impact event from ground-based telescopes. This was achieved by a series of orbit manoeuvres and orbit corrections performed during the course of the summer, using very ingenious combinations of wheel off-loadings and thruster firings to reach an optimum orbit. The last of these manoeuvres was performed on 1 September. A final orbit adjustment had to be implemented as a re-analysis of available lunar data suggested that in the absence of any further manoeuvres, impact would very likely occur one orbit earlier, at 00:38 UT during orbit 2889, if SMART-1 clipped the rim of the Clausius crater.
The planned impact concluded a very successful mission that, in addition to testing innovative space technology, has conducted a thorough scientific exploration of the Moon for about a year and a half. For the last 16 months and until its final orbits, SMART-1 has studied the Moon, gathering data about the morphology and mineralogical composition of the surface in visible, infrared and X-ray wavelength ranges.
Professional and amateur observers – from South Africa to the Canary Islands, South America, the continental USA, Hawaii and many other locations – participated in the ground based campaign to observe the impact. The most impressive observation was the impact flash in the infrared as observed by the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope (CFHT). JIVE, the Joint Institute for Very long Baseline Interferometry in Europe, coordinated a very successful joint SMART-1 observation campaign that included five radio telescopes.
Besides its mission proper, SMART-1 served as a test bed to test and calibrate parts of the ground segment to be implemented by the Chinese and Indian Space Agencies in preparation for their future lunar missions Chang'e 1 and Chandrayaan.