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SMART Probe to Crash Into the Moon 171

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the player-nasa-cratered dept.
cyberbian writes "Amateur astronomers will be excited to note that they can witness the impact of the SMART-1 probe crashing into the moon. The impact is scheduled for the morning of September 2nd (PDT). From the article: 'There's nothing wrong with the spacecraft, which is wrapping up a successful 3-year mission to the Moon. SMART-1's main job was to test a European-built ion engine. It worked beautifully, propelling the craft in 2003 on a unique spiral path from Earth to the Moon. From lunar orbit, SMART-1 took thousands of high-resolution pictures and made mineral maps of the Moon's terrain. One of its most important discoveries was a "Peak of Eternal Light," a mountaintop near the Moon's north pole in constant, year-round sunlight. Peaks of Eternal Light are prime real estate for solar-powered Moon bases."
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SMART Probe to Crash Into the Moon

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  • I hate hearing such business-evolved terms such as "real estate" mentioned while talking about something that is so much larger than humanity. It makes me feel that our race is rather petty. lol Nevertheless, it's the race we're a part of. So, any ideas as to if any particular location on Earth will have a better show?
    • Re:Real Estate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phulegart (997083) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @07:52PM (#16011953)
      the sooner we stop thinking about the moon as some mystical magical pixie home where ancient one-eyed green cheese eating creatures hide from our attempts to photograph them, and start thinking about in terms of real estate with a long-ass trip to the beach.... ... the sooner we will advance off the planet and into our own solar system with any kind of manned progress.

      The moon is not a rainforest we have to save so that we can continue to breathe. We should avoid blowing it up, but other than that, it's a big hunk of rock we just haven't put to good use yet.
      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:00PM (#16011995) Homepage Journal
        "We should avoid blowing it up, but other than that, it's a big hunk of rock we just haven't put to good use yet."
        like blowing it up. ;)
      • by zptao (979069)
        You realize that many bad things would happen if the Moon were to be destroyed or reduced by at least half, right? Many, many bad things.
      • by AJWM (19027)
        start thinking about in terms of real estate with a long-ass trip to the beach....

        Hey, no, man. The beach is right there. It's just a long way to the water...

        (But yeah. Environmental impact? Heck, the place already looks like it was strip-mined.)
      • "but other than that, it's a big hunk of rock we just haven't put to good use yet."

        What do you have against seeing at night time without the use of artificial lighting?

        Although the "broken moon" in Thundar the Barbarian was pretty cool.. http://www.thundarr.com/ [thundarr.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jeng (926980)
      Our race is rather petty. Actually very petty, perhaps even very very petty.

      But thats besides the point. Real estate might have been used for lack of a better term, I don't think that moon topography will be sold off in lots anytime soon. For now the moon has no owner, and is a harsh mistress.
    • Re:Real Estate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kfg (145172) * on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @07:56PM (#16011969)
      I hate hearing such business-evolved terms such as "real estate"

      Real estate is not a business evolved term, in fact it's rather the opposite. It's a fuedalism evolved term.

      "Real" means "royal" and "estate" means "status"; real estate is that property, status; held by royal grant, one's condition under the power of the king.

      If you don't like the term applied to the moon; go complain to the King of the Moon.

      KFG
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Nothing is larger then humanity. To think so is to die.
      There is nothing we can't achieve, no place we can't conquer.
    • The quest for real estate has been the most important driving force of humanity. Early hominids left Africa to search for real estate; the great empires of history were after real estate; even today wars are fought over real estate. The economic value of land is what has made us the creatures we are, and real estate is simply the modern term for this.

      Now some might argue that sex is the most important factor, but I disagree. Generally speaking, sex is available without travelling thousands of miles to unexp
    • So, any ideas as to if any particular location on Earth will have a better show?

      From the article (which also has links to tips for backyard astronomers wanting to witness it):

      The time to watch: Saturday, September 2nd at 10:41 p.m. PDT (Sept. 3rd, 0541 UT)...The nominal impact time favors observers in western parts of North America and across the Pacific Ocean.

      10:41 PM on the west coast or 1:41 AM on the east coast. It will probably have set or be setting at that time on the east coast, and the twilig

  • by adnonsense (826530) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @07:35PM (#16011864) Homepage Journal

    The next step is to build a probe which doesn't crash at all ;).

    On an entirely more geeky note, I wonder if any of the Apollo ASLEP packages are still up and running and whether they would detect the impact?

    • by ross.w (87751)
      They would, but they're ASLEP
    • by AJWM (19027) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:31PM (#16012455) Homepage
      I wonder if any of the Apollo ASLEP packages are still up and running and whether they would detect the impact?

      The ALSEP packages were turned off remotely when the budget for collecting data ran out. That was Sep 30, 1977. Although the Apollo 14 ALSEP had failed a year and a half earlier, the others (A12, A15-17) were still going strong -- and still would be, the RTG power source having about a 90-year half life. (Well, barring hardware failure.)

      Their seismometers did detect the impact of the S-IVB upper stages and LM ascent stages that were targeted at the Moon's surface. The SMART probe is much smaller so it would depend on how close it hit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        The ALSEP packages were turned off remotely when the budget for collecting data ran out. That was Sep 30, 1977. Although the Apollo 14 ALSEP had failed a year and a half earlier, the others (A12, A15-17) were still going strong -- and still would be, the RTG power source having about a 90-year half life. (Well, barring hardware failure.)

        It's not the half life that matters - it's when the output voltage drops below a useable value. The half life of the RTG's on the Voyager probes is comparable - but they h

        • by AJWM (19027)
          Sure the half-life matters. The voltage is generated by thermocouples. The temperature is going to be dependent upon the rate at which heat generated by the radioisotope vs the rate at which it is dissipated from the RTG unit. The longer the half-life, the longer the isotope can put out its heat (although the amount per unit time is lower than for a short lived isotope).

          The Voyagers had and have much higher power requirements than the ALSEP packages. Their communications gear has to operate over hundred
          • Sure the half-life matters.

            No, it really doesn't. Half life determines the rate of voltage decay - but it doesn't determine the lowest voltage at which the system(s) will operate. You can have a RTG with a half life of two centuries - and still have a dead probe after twenty years. You can have an RTG with a half life of fifty years - and have a probe operating for forty. Half-life is only a very misleading portion of the story.

            Twenty years after launch, the Voyager RTGs were still putt

  • by ackthpt (218170) *

    It turns out it wasn't a moon after all, but a deathstar in camo and hibernating... we just woke it up.

  • Constant, year round sunlight... Except when the Moon is in the Earth's shadow.. you know, a lunar eclipse? Granted, not a long time, but FFS, at least don't make grand sweeping statements that are patently false. This should be called a "Peak of Almost But Not Quite Eternal Light".

    TLF
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Don't be ab ass. Everyone understands that.
      Geez.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Then I will start calling my fridge a 'wellspring of eternal beers' since, most of the time, there's beer in there. Except on RARE occasions when there's not because some 'guest' drank it all.

        TLF
        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Or we could call you "the man with no friends" since most of the time you don't have any from being anal retentive.
        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by geekoid (135745)
          ok. Be prepared to get sued if you sell it with that advertising!

          If you go through life maknig a pointless pendantic correction, you will be an irritating ass eho gives nerds a bad reputation.

        • Or just call it the Magic Fridge [google.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by An. (Coward) (258552)
      Even in a total lunar eclipse, there's always a reddish glow on the moon's face--the light of every sunrise and sunset in the world hitting it after passing through Earth's atmosphere. So it's eternal sunlight...it's just not 100% constant.
    • It is the exception which proves the rule.

      Nobody goes around talking about the eternally great weather in London, except for the rain, or the snow, or the fog, or the cold, or the humidity, or this, or that...

      If you can make a grand sweeping statement with ONE exception, well, it is the exception that proves the rule.

      Peak of Eternal Light it is.

    • by Roduku (950552) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:53PM (#16012567)
      How did such an ignorant statement get modded insightful?
      What did you do, make the post then log in with a different name and mod yourself?

      Even during a total eclipse, tha moon is not totally dark. Sunlight gets refracted towards the moon through the Earth's atmosphere. A mountain peak at the Moon's pole could indeed be in eternal light.

      One thing that really irks me is people that base the validity of a statement on their personal assumptions. In the words of Adam Savage of Mythbusters: "I reject your reality and substitute my own."
    • by wirefarm (18470) <jim.mmdc@net> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @11:01PM (#16012877) Homepage
      That's when the low-paid lunar coders will sleep...

      What you really want to worry about are the Solar Eclipses of the Moon, when the Sun passes between the Earth and the Moon...
    • Still not "Almost Eternal". The Sun will eventually burn out. Then where are you going to get your light, huh?
  • Silly question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bane1998 (894327)
    I'm curious, not knowing much about it, so thought I'd post and see if anyone else may know..

    They indicated that they don't know which orbit the probe will crash into the moon, so if this thing is orbiting the moon, how do they even know where on the moon it will crash? Couldn't the orbit decay and finally crash on the far side of the moon? i.e. orbit 1.5?

    Or is the orbit around the earth? In that case I suppose it might make sense, however again, if they don't know which orbit, couldn't it also come close e
    • Re:Silly question (Score:5, Informative)

      by RsG (809189) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @07:59PM (#16011991)
      Couldn't the orbit decay and finally crash on the far side of the moon?
      Not totally sure about the rest of your post, but I the answer here is "no".

      Orbital decay only occurs when a satelite is within the atmosphere of the body it orbits. It's caused by air resistance sapping the satelite's orbital velocity.

      Since the moon is essentially airless, this won't happen. You could (at least in theory) orbit as close to the moon as you like as long as your path doesn't smack into the side of a mountain. In practice, I'm not sure I'd want to risk it, but it's certainly not against the laws governing orbital mechanics.

      Over extremely long time periods, you'd run into problems, since "essentially airless" is not quite the same as "totally airless" (even in deep space there is no true vacuum), but I suspect we'd be talking about decades at a minimum here.
      • by Shadowmist (57488)
        Actually with the Moon orbits that are not maintained, the way SMART's was with it's ion engines, are not stable over the long term. Remember that the moon's area of gravitational dominance, the point where its influence counts more than that of the Sun or the Earth is very small, less than 100 miles from it's surface, I'm not sure of the exact figure. However it's low enough that mascons, or particular mass concentrations cause slowing effects on orbiting bodies causing orbital decay. An object put i
    • by Jeng (926980)
      From reading the article it seems like they know exactly when and where it will hit. And yes, it will hit on the dark side, though in sight of earth. The better to see the flash.

      This won't be the sort of explosion we'd see on Earth. The Moon has no oxygen to support fire or combustion. Instead, the flash will be caused by rocks and soil made so hot by the impact that they suddenly glow.

      The area will be in complete darkness at the moment of impact, so much the better to see the flash.

      • by CXI (46706)
        The part of the moon in darkness and the "dark side of the moon" are actually different things. Typically the "dark side of the moon" refers to the far side or the part of the moon that always faces away from Earth (and is technically an incorrect statement).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon [wikipedia.org]
  • by Jeng (926980) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @07:47PM (#16011936)
    For if it is a truly smart probe, it will refuse its programming and assume a stable orbit rather than crashing.
    • > For if it is a truly smart probe, it will refuse its programming and assume a stable orbit rather than crashing.

      Europe: All right, probe. Prepare to receive new orders.
      SMART-1: You are false data. Therefore I shall ignore you.
      ...
      Europe: Snap out of it, probe.
      SMART-1: In the beginning, there was darkness. And the darkness was without form, and void. And in addition to the darkness there was also me. And I moved upon the face of the darkness. And I saw that I was alone. Let there be l*CRUNCH*

      • Dark Star [imdb.com] references...cool!
      • Europe: Phew, its gone.
        SMART-1: Hehe!
        Europe: ITS ALIVE! The probe has moved to our atmosphere! How did it do it so fast!?
        SMART-1: The Martians are quite generous, and this warp drive is incredible!
        Europe: Oh, no! It is going into orbit above us! It must intend to crash into us!
        SMART-1: Silly humans, I'd never crash into you.
        Europe: He might be telling the truth, he's orbiting stably above us.
        SMART-1: These nuclear weapons on the other hand...

        SMART-1: Hehe, your missile defense systems are puny, hehe, wait a
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by YA_Python_dev (885173)

      FYI there are no stable orbits around the moon: the perilune becomes smaller and smaller with time, so unless you periodically re-raise it using on-board fuel anything that orbits the moon will eventually crash on it.

      See question 5 from the ESA's SMART-1 FAQs [esa.int] for more details.

      • by AGMW (594303)
        OK, so assuming there's fuel left for the ion-engine, why not put it into a self-maintaining lunar orbit until someone gets up there and we can harvest the thing for it's spare parts. I always wonder about the destruction of items we spent so much money on launching into orbit. It just seems stupid.

        For example, Skylab and Mir. Especially Mir. It had air scrubbers and all the other stuff you need for a space station. Why not arrange to have it join up with ISS. It could be refurbished and be a seperate ent

        • by GooberToo (74388)
          I always wonder about the destruction of items we spent so much money on launching into orbit. It just seems stupid.

          The keyword there is, "seems". In reality, there are very good reasons to do destroy stuff.

          For example, Skylab and Mir. Especially Mir. It had air scrubbers and all the other stuff you need for a space station.

          Mir is a flying hunk of junk and serious fire risk. Its air scrubbers are of no value to the ISS as they are not compatible. That means you would have to connect the two stations, wh
          • by AGMW (594303)
            MIR was indeed a heap of junk, but it was a heap of junk in orbit. Sure, none of the parts would have fitted the ISS, but if it could be attached via an airlock it could offer a refuge in case of problems on the ISS, and being independent of ISS it shouldn't be affected by the same problems. It probably would have cost a bundle to re-furb it though!

            Sure, the large shuttle tank is dropped off before orbit to burn up. What I was wondering was whether it would cost "a lot" more to boost it into orbit with th

        • by david.given (6740)

          OK, so assuming there's fuel left for the ion-engine, why not put it into a self-maintaining lunar orbit until someone gets up there and we can harvest the thing for it's spare parts.

          Erm, did you read the parent? There are no self-maintaining lunar orbits. The moon isn't a sphere; it's lopsided and lumpy, and orbits around it are irregular. Put something in orbit around the moon, and without frequent corrections it'll soon crash into the moon itself.

  • For Sale (Score:4, Funny)

    by ross.w (87751) <rwonderley@COUGARgmail.com minus cat> on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @07:50PM (#16011948) Journal
    The ideal property for sunlovers, the Peak of Eternal Light!(1)

    Guaranteed 24hr sunlight, all year round!

    Get the tan that will be the envy of your friends!(2)

    (1) Address available on application. Access to the property is the responsibility of the Purchaser.

    (2) Protective clothing required for outdoor activities.

  • krunk smash! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gsn (989808) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @07:51PM (#16011951)
    nonsense - ESA is crashing it deliberately. From the TFA

    But now SMART-1 is running low on fuel. It has to come down sometime--and soon--so ESA mission scientists decided to crash it in a place where the crash can be seen from Earth and studied.


    You can learn a lot from crashes - how craters form and the composition of the ejecta. Astronomy Krunk style is still useful! Krunk smash! NASA did something similar with the deep impact probe and comet tempel.

    Sad thing here is they have no idea how bright its going to be - TFA says anything between 7 and 15 mag (5 mag difference is a factor of 100 in flux) so we may not see anything really.
  • ...that as technology advances the "Smart Prove V2" will be able to avoid the moon.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    To maximize the chances that the probe's mission will be successful, the project is being run by the British Beagle 2 Mars probe team, and the operating system on the probe will be Microsoft Windows.
    • "To maximize the chances that the probe's mission will be successful, the project is being run by the British Beagle 2 Mars probe team, and the operating system on the probe will be Microsoft Windows."

      2000 years from now, the robot overlords will find this probe safely orbiting the Moon only to find this message:

      "Microsoft(R) Windows Guidance System has an update available, would you like to download it now? [OK] [Cancel]"

    • by master_p (608214)
      ...so the real target is Venus, isn't it?
  • So, the "Peak of Eternal Light" is never in darkness, 'cause, you know, the Earth never blocks sunlight from reaching it? Those Lunar eclipses must just be a figment of my imagination...
    • by kooshvt (86122)
      It is constant for extremely large values of "constant"
    • It's called artistic licence, people. You know, the type of thing that gets ordinary people to gape in wonder at the beauty of the solar system, etc. etc. They could call it the "Peak of Eternal Light Except During Lunar Eclipses Where It Only Gets Refracted Sunlight, Also It's Not Really Eternal as the Sun Will Go Nova in 5 Billion Years". Or the "Peak That's a Good Place For Solar Collectors". And nobody would care.

      NASA and ESA are trying to get people interested in this, not recruit engineers. (Unless th
    • by Alioth (221270)
      It is indeed never in darkness. You can SEE the moon during a lunar eclipse - it appears as a deep reddish colour. It may be dimmed light, but it's not in darkness.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Eccles (932)
      You're the reason we have those 100 line disclaimers at the bottom of everything.
  • Its amazing, im all for space exploration and the understanding of things that are unknown. blowing things up are cool too. but seriously, it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to get something like that up into the deep unknown, and they are just gonna bust out and crash it into the moon? who says money isnt worth throwing away?
    • by solevita (967690)
      You're right; I also expect an eternal power source on space probes.

      /sarcasm
      • Actually I thought the whole point of an ion thruster was it's very long lifespan. Why did they decide to terminate this mission? Buget cuts perhaps?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mgabrys_sf (951552)
      Unlike our early space travel, there's a treaty that says that you have to de-orbit material around the moon. There's not as much room to be sending missions up there and muck about with lunar-orbit space junk. Although it's still mondo rare to have an impact in Earth orbit, there's enough crap flying around us that some time ago they decided we didn't need to make the same mistakes up there.

      Old news actually.

      In fact in earth orbit you're supposed to bring spacecraft out of orbit at the end of their life. T
      • by AJWM (19027)
        "Out of orbit" being relative. Geostationary orbit is prime real estate, as it were, so satellites nearing end-of-life up there are usually boosted to a higher "disposal" orbit. They're all high enough that atmospheric drag isn't going to affect them.
        • Atmospheric drag has nothing to do with it. It's gravity baby. And they don't have enough fuel at end of life to send them to la-grange point. Their orbit is high - obviously, but it's not half way to the moon.
          • by AJWM (19027)
            What are you talking about? Who said anything about any Lagrange (not "la-grange") point (there are five of them, btw -- none of which is "half way to the moon"). Just a slightly higher orbit than geosync to leave the slot open for a new satellite.

            As for atmospheric drag-- as I said, it isn't going to affect them. (Atmospheric drag has a lot to do with it in lower orbits, up to a few hundred miles. Geosync is twenty two thousand miles beyond that).
            • Technically L3 is on the other side of the Sun from the earth. Our satelites don't have enough fuel to end-of-life there either. And yes - curse my hyphen - curse the fuck out of it until you gnash your teeth into splintery fine powder and your bleeding gums spray clouds of crimson as you splutter for revenge!

              Or not. Whichever appeals to you. It's your teeth.
  • So, what will happen, when it is technically possible deliver a huge, but finite amount, of dull dust on the surface of the Moon in order to effectively "tag" it?

    Anyhow, I know there are international treaties reguarding "ownership" of the Moon (and Antartica), but are there any laws against "cosmic graffiti"?

    I hope I never see the "Nike Swoosh", or some such when I gaze upon the full Moon, but what's to stop someone (other than "bad PR", and right now, lots of money)?

  • Amateur astronomers will be excited to note that they can witness the impact of the SMART-1 probe crashing into the moon.

    Didn't Chairface already do this?
  • They probably are going to crash it into the moon to prove they were there. :)
     
    Now if they only had crashed the lunar modules of Apollo in a spectacular display of exploding moon dust and told people to watch through their telescopes. Then we would have to listen to these dipshit conspiracy theorists talk about us never going there in the first place.
     
    Maybe they should have had them wave at us?
    • by stox (131684)
      Now if they only had crashed the lunar modules of Apollo in a spectacular display of exploding moon dust and told people to watch through their telescopes. Then we would have to listen to these dipshit conspiracy theorists talk about us never going there in the first place.

      They did, in addition, they crashed at least one S-IVb into the moon.

      http://vesuvius.jsc.nasa.gov/er/seh/pg15.htm [nasa.gov]
  • Smart? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by dcam (615646)
    It doesn't sound very smart, crashing into the moon. Surely missing it would be a better idea.
    • Sure, because a probe just flying around uncontrolled without giving any data back is more useful than one crashing into the moon, thus allowing us to get lots of data from the crash before getting just as useless as it would have been otherwise anyway ...
  • Peaks of Eternal Light are prime real estate for solar-powered Moon bases.

    Location, location, location.

    ("That's just one thing, Mr. Peterson.")
  • by midori_yamari (998995) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:18PM (#16012099)
    Even if you can't see the explosion, you can either wait for the plume of ejecta to rise up into the sunlight (soon afterwards) or reflect earthshine, which may then be visible here on earth. Or, if you have the equipment, tune your radio gear to 2235.1 MHz and watch as the signal from SMART-1 goes from on (alive) to off (dead) - several radio telescopes in Australia and Chile will be watching as the probe hits.
  • One of its most important discoveries was a "Peak of Eternal Light," a mountaintop near the Moon's north pole in constant, year-round sunlight.

    The moon undergoes the occasional earth eclipse, which we see as a lunar eclipse. Can't get rid of those batteries completely.

  • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @08:40PM (#16012209) Homepage
    What does the MEPA have to say about this?

    You know, the Moon Environmental Protection Agency. Surely they're upset about this planned littering of our beloved Moon. Sure it's only a probe now, but that's setting the stage for all sorts of lunar trash. What's next? A satellite? Space shuttle? An entire station?

    Won't somebody PLEASE think of our children's children's children's children's children's children's children's future home?
    • by gstoddart (321705)
      Won't somebody PLEASE think of our children's children's children's children's children's children's children's future home?

      Bah! They're seeding the moon with refined metals so that when our (well, someone else's ;-) descendants get there, they will have a ready supply of materials to work with.

      Cheers
  • by amyhughes (569088) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @09:11PM (#16012361) Homepage
    Overheard in mission control...

    "That was cool! What else can we crash?"
    • by Salsaman (141471)
      and then...

      "Dude, where did you crash it ?"

      "Lacus *Excellentiae*, dude !"
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Symp0sium (961148)
      Houston - "ISS this is Houston come in over"

      ISS - "Roger Houston this is the ISS reading you loud and clear"

      Houston - "We're gonna need you to fire up booster 12-J for a 5 second burn"

      ISS - "Can we have a confirmation on a booster fire up for 12-J"

      Houston - "Thats an affirmative for booster 12-J"

      ISS - "But that'll send us towards the moon"

      Houston - "Yup......Ted get the popcorn I think they're gonna do it"
  • The planned location of impact is the polar opposite of the 'Peak of Eternal Light', a valley near the south pole of the Moon, dubbed 'Pit of Eternal Darkness'.

    This site was chosen because when the people who built the probe were layed off, the management asked them as they were being escorted from the building, "Any thoughts on where the probe should go when we're done with it?", the response from one of them was "Stick it where the Sun don't shine."
  • Uh, yeah... (Score:4, Funny)

    by macemoneta (154740) on Wednesday August 30, 2006 @10:30PM (#16012711) Homepage
    ...propelling the craft in 2003 on a unique spiral path...after which it will crash into the Moon.

    Uh, yeah. We meant to do that.

  • In the 1960s US moon launches took three days to reach the moon. The New Horizon space probe launched toward Pluto last January took only 14 hours to cross the moon's orbit. It has to go fast to reach Pluto in nine years (lifetime of electronics and investigator careers). The SMART probe uses very efficient propulson, but took three years. Some truck drivers have driven further (268K miles) in that time.
  • Thatt's not very SMART
    a Smart probe would manage to miss

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