SMART-1: the last hours

The last few days appear to have been quite exciting for the SMART-1 team. Stereo imaging by the spacecraft during the week helped the team get a better idea of the height of the terrain surrounding the nominal impact site and they planned to fire the thrusters to boost the final orbit. However, in a senario that makes me think back to the unlucky Hayabusa, a fault caused SMART-1 to put itself into safe-mode on 1st September. This meant that the spacecraft had stopped normal operations and was waiting for reset commands. Thankfully, within six hours ESA's Spacecraft Operations Centre (ESOC) had managed to get SMART-1 back online. It sounds like a nail-biting time in ESOC (which you can watch on their webcam although right now it is pretty quiet)

Tonight, the mission scientists should be receiving the last data that the spacecraft will transmit before its expected impact at 05:42 UT this morning (Sunday 3rd September). If you have binoculars or a small telescope and live in the western parts of North or South America you can try to observe the impact yourself. Here in the UK (and Europe) we won't see anything because we are facing the wrong way.

Farewell SMART-1.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Sunday 03rd Sep 2006 (01:17 BST) | Permalink
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