The Bruce Murray Space Image Library
SMART-1 lunar impact as seen from Earth
Filed under citizen science, pretty pictures, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, SMART-1, spacecraft, the Moon, optical telescopes
The 3.6-meter optical/infrared Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) in Hawaii captured this impressive sequence of SMART-1 impact images showing before, during, and after the impact. The impact flash -- which lasted only about 1 millisecond -- may have been caused by the thermal emission from the impact itself or by the release of spacecraft volatiles, such as the small amount of hydrazine fuel remaining on board.
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation
NASA / GSFC / ASU / Phil Stooke
Is this where SMART-1 hit?
Planetary cartographer Phil Stooke tentatively identified a tiny splat visible in a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image as the place where ESA's lunar orbiter SMART-1 crashed. SMART-1 was traveling from north to south, and the mission previously identified a small mountain (top image) as being the likely crash location based upon its ground track and the time of its impact (which produced a detectable flash, seen from Earth). SMART-1 hit at 33°S and 46.2°W on September 3, 2006 at 05:42 UTC. When it crashed, it did so at an exceedingly shallow angle of only about 1 degree. The resulting crater should be elongate and should have a butterfly-like spray of ejecta. Stooke looked at Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera images of the mountain, progressively zooming in from the top image, to left center, to right center, to the bottom image, identifying a bright (hence, fresh) splat as the possible impact site. This identification is far from certain; it's just a possible candidate.
Original image data dated on or about September 3, 2006.
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