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EU Craft Successfully Hits The Moon 134

An anonymous reader writes "SMART-1 has hit the Moon , just as planned and — even better — the impact threw out a bright infrared that was seen by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in Hawaii. There's an animation of the images grabbed by the telescope. Scientists now hope to analyse the chemistry of the rock ejected by the crash. If only you could dump old cars in such a useful way."
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EU Craft Successfully Hits The Moon

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  • DUMB-1 (Score:3, Funny)

    by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:31AM (#16037639)
    Take three years to get there, then crash it :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by delinear ( 991444 )

      You may scoff, but there is a strong scientific reasoning behind this. Once we terraform the moon and have a society living up there, pretty soon that society is going to collapse. By hiding these scientific treasures for them to find in the distant future, we can potentially kick-start a resurgent scientific age and save ourselves a lot of trial and error.

      We should also think about sticking some dinosaur fossils up there as well, just to get some heated religious/evolutionary debates underway.

  • by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:32AM (#16037642)
    Whoops, we're still in orbit. Let's try hitting it again!
  • Ion drive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Adelbert ( 873575 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:32AM (#16037644) Journal
    This can only be seen as great news for the ion drive. SMART-1 spiralled around the Moon exactly as planned, and was targetted at the Sea of Excellence with utmost precision. Perhaps we'll be seeing more probes with tiny amounts of fuel in the near future...?
    • Indeed, only a few seconds from predicted impact time, from what I've read. Now I wonder how many meters/pixel the IR image has..
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by solitas ( 916005 )
        This page: [] says that the camera's resolution was 0.3 seconds of arc, which equals about 500 meters, per pixel.

        I don't see any kind of change in the surface before/after - does anyone yet know if maybe it ricocheted back up again? 15 seconds/frame probably wouldn't show anything further...
        • by solitas ( 916005 )
          I downloaded the animated GIF and pulled it into ImageJ ( My intent was to examine the frame immediately after the flare (which was frame 11) for any evidence of lingering heat.

          A cropped version of the result is at []. It shows frames 10-16.

          Pretty neat! It looks like it _did_ kick up some dust.
    • Now I do admire the scientific success here. Good job well done. But.. SMART...Sea Of Excellence...??? And it crashed???

      Hmmm, did these guys hire Fox News spin doctors to do the naming?
  • by legoburner ( 702695 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:32AM (#16037647) Homepage Journal
    Mars, Comets, Titan and now the Moon. Is there anything we can't smash stuff into?
  • So.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:33AM (#16037657) Journal
    Was there a good chance that it would miss? Was there the possibility of an "unsuccessful" crash?
    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:47AM (#16037722) Homepage Journal
      Was there a good chance that it would miss? Was there the possibility of an "unsuccessful" crash?

      Ah, you must've read THHGTTG (shameless paste follows):

      There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] suggests, and try it.

      The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt.

      That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.

      Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.

      ESA are working on that last bit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Strangely enough other spacecraft have missed [] before.
  • Ion-propulsion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Iron (III) Chloride ( 922186 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:34AM (#16037662)
    The dust is certainly interesting to study, but I should say the ion propulsion engine on board is also a very interesting development. Maybe further development/use of this engine will lead to faster/more frequent/lower-cost space missions than now. Good thing NASA is slating ion propulsion for future unmanned missions ... it would be interesting if Orion (or whatever that thing is called) can use ion propulsion once it clears Earth's gravitational force.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ajpr ( 921401 )
      The ion engine is good for efficiency, but very bad for any human exploration. It takes years to get the spacecraft up to speed (and SMART-1 didn't have any fuel for landing). The Moon is only a few days travel using chemical rockets, so I don't think Orion could get much use from it. Sending payloads in advance may be worth doing, especially when going to Mars and beyond.
    • by Venik ( 915777 )
      SMART-1 uses Hall effect thrusters []. These have been flown on dozens of Russian spacecraft over the past thirty years. So, I wouldn't neccessarily say that SMART-1 is such an interesting development. However, SMART-1 is the first non-Russian space vehicle to use such an engine. This in itself is very interesting, considering that the first ion thruster (based on a different principle, though) was invented in the US back in the 60s. I wonder why such delay, considering all the advantages offered by ion thrust
  • by rozz ( 766975 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:37AM (#16037674)
    ...was not available for comment at press time
  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:40AM (#16037686)
    ... your days at being the world's only celestial-body-impacting-space-agency are over!
    • by Cecil ( 37810 )
      Funny, I think that the Russians were the first to impact a probe into the Moon! Luna 2 [].
      • Well, we showed the Commies, didn't we? Not only did we smack into the moon, but we've smacked into comets, we've smacked into Mars, we've smacked into the earth, we're getting to good at smacking that we smack into things without having to bother planning to do it. NASA is the worldwide leader at taking a few hundred million dollars and turning it into a giant crater on your celestial body of choice.
  • by agent dero ( 680753 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:41AM (#16037690) Homepage
    so, let me get this straight...

    European Space Agency gets their kicks by slamming into stuff...

    American Space Agency gets their kicks by not getting off the ground...

    I think the tide is starting to turn in the new space race :-P
    • "European Space Agency gets their kicks by slamming into stuff...American Space Agency gets their kicks by not getting off the ground..."

      And, in Soviet Russia, they never got off ground plan to smash stuff into YOU!
  • exclusive footage [] of the moons response, I'm not sure he really knows what is going on, seems kinda senile.
    • by vistic ( 556838 )
      Wow that's annoying.
      • by thelost ( 808451 )
        nah man, that's the mighty boosh. the greatest comedy ever to be handed down from the mighty pantheon to humanity. Then again, it seems to me that Americans often don't enjoy British humour!
        • by vistic ( 556838 )
          No british humor is my favorite kind of humor (monty python, absolutely fabulous, black books, the office, peep show, little britain, spaced, count duckula, hitchhikers guide miniseries... I'm pretty familiar with a lot of it) but this was just annoying.
          • by thelost ( 808451 )
            the mighty boosh is a marmite of comedies, people either hate it or love it. glad to hear you enjoy black books, a fine fine programme!
  • Hm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ellidi T ( 941495 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:46AM (#16037710) Homepage
    The Moon Successfully Hits EU Craft.
  • So "SMART-1 orbited the Moon more than 2000 times and mapped the mineralogy of the lunar surface" before it was successfully crashed into the surface. Scientists expect the ejecta from the crash to settle over up to a square kilometer of the impact site. Do we now need to send up another probe to remap the surface which was disturbed?
  • by isaacklinger ( 966649 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:48AM (#16037727)
    Putting a link to a 3.5 meg GIF, on slashdot's front page. Yeah. For those who didn't get a chance to watch it, at 5:42:15:93 there was a round white flash over a grey rectangle scattered with black dots.
  • Could somebody explain to me what those black dots are in the animation? Also, does anybody else think that the probe is visible a frame or two before impact in the upper left corner? or is that just some anomaly?
  • Other coverage (Score:5, Informative)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:50AM (#16037742) Homepage
    Here's the BBC story [] on this event. What I found particularly nice about this report was that in a "mainstream" news outlet there was no dumbing-down of the technology, such as the ion drive.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:52AM (#16037753)


    **  **
  • I'm reminded of K240 with its poorly orchestrated ship to ship battles and all you see are random explosions because you were to skint to defend your asteroids with anything other than scout ships with x10 shields. But without the sound.
  • ESA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Englabenny ( 625607 ) <> on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:00AM (#16037791) Homepage
    Please, it's a European Space Agency operatoin, not European Union.
  • Ahem (Score:4, Funny)

    by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:23AM (#16037932) Journal
    Someone shoots the moon and then people break out telescopes to watch it.
  • by MrSteveSD ( 801820 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:34AM (#16038009)
    I am quite proud that my country, Britain, managed to successfully crash a probe into Mars.
    • by heyda ( 999412 )
      when? Does Britain have her own rocket? That's belong to the whole Europe.
      • when? Does Britain have her own rocket? That's belong to the whole Europe.
        Yes, but we were in control of steering it :-)
  • not so new (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Watch me being confused: "new" technology (ion engine) was flown to space numerous times in the past: []
  • Are we under attack? Moon is soveign US territory (we planted the flag first -- end of story). Is this the first wave of attack? Are we not going to respond? Anyone know the scoop? Is Christiane Amanpour on her way to the moon?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by wasted time ( 891410 )
      Is Christiane Amanpour on her way to the moon?

      One can only hope.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Zaatxe ( 939368 )
      Are we under attack? Moon is soveign US territory (we planted the flag first -- end of story).

      Oh, did you? Can NASA provide some original video tape or film reel with the Moon landing to prove what you claim?
      • so, was the Man In The Moon a member of Al Qaeda? We the people demand to know!
      • Only if you can provide the entire first season('series' to you Brits) of Doctor Who.
        • by Zaatxe ( 939368 )
          Sorry, me no british. Me brazilian and here in Brazil Doctor Who was never broadcasted or sold in DVD's. I can't provide neither a single episode of Doctor Who.
          • Even if you were british, the point was that you couldn't find the very first season/series of Doctor Who because it was also lost.
    • Moon is soveign US territory (we planted the flag first -- end of story).
      Antartic treaty
  • Here is the animation hosted on TheFileBase. []
  • On smashing stuff (Score:5, Informative)

    by YGingras ( 605709 ) <> on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:43AM (#16038069) Homepage
    I'm back from the computational astrobiology summer school in Honolulu and we were lectured by Karen Meech who was on the scientific comity for Deep Impact and in charge of all Earth based observations. Despite the catchy depiction of the mission as a space demolition derby its a perfectly valid way to study stuff out there.

    By smaching stuff hard enough they can vaporize matter and use Earth based spectrometers to get a really detailed description of the content. For those not into astronomy, when you split the light from a neon light, you see distinct rays, not a continuous spectrum. You can identify the gas in the tube by just looking at its rays, argon lights are different from neon and so on. When you vaporize any kind of matter you get a spectrum. You can tell whats in the sample by looking at emission or absorbsion rays depending on wether your sample is the light source or a filter. There is a catch, from Earth you can only tell the elements (and sometimes molecules) that have rays in the transparency windows of our atmosphere,

    The good side of the Deep Impact kind of missions is that you can study an object on the "cheap". You just send something to be smashed and the science package is already on earth. No need to build a high price mass spectrometer and to find a way to land it without crashing. In the case of Deep Impact, you don't even need to accelerate the impactor, the comet already has all the momentum required to cause vaporization when it hits something on its path. Since Deep Impact was such a success, they figured that smashing old spacecraft was a good way to "recycle" them and rest assured that the space demolition derby is not about to end.

    Another good point about smashing stuff is that is sounds cool. Just look at the comments here on /., people love to smash stuff. The science is hard to understand for the average tax payer but the impact isn't and Nasa is really outreach oriented. Next week a lot of people will talk about the recent smash at work, many more than those who talk about the holy quest from dark matter. Some of those will feel nostalgic and bring their kids star gazing and a new generation of astronomers will be on its way. Missions that are easy to understand keep the public interest high. One smash a year keeps the budget cut away?

    On a deeper philosophical ground I realize now that hackers should learn from this effort to present to the public an over simplistic view of what you do. Most of us can't explain to our parents what we do. This is because we try to stay accurate and I think that this is wrong. No one will start coding based on just your job description so a little inaccuracy should be allowed. As Kim Binsted told us, we should always have an elevator pitch version of what we do that anyone can understand; thats how you build contacts and how budgets are allocated.

    Back to smashing stuff, I think that this is the best way we have to quickly respond to opportunities: a close-by asteroid, an unexpected comet, an alien spaceship, ... and we should build all new spacecrafts to be usefull when we smash them when they run out of fuel. To be usefull all the material should have its emission lines outside of Earth transparency window or at least outsides of windows for interesting stuff like organics. We should of course also launch a bunch of impactors will the sole goal of being smashed.

    By the way did you know that they are studying comets and asteroids as the putative primary vector of water and amino acids to Earth? Contrary to the Miller theory, the young earth might not have been such an efficient amino acids synthesizer. On the otherhand we keep finding those in carbonacous meteorites. We have an observation that the formation of chucks of rocks in space for an unknown reason creates the building blocks for life as a byproduct. Don't you think that we should smash a lot more stuff to learn more about it? I do, let the space demolition derby go on!
  • Worst. Animation. Ever.
  • FTFA: It was highly efficient, covering 100 million km in a series of looping orbits and using just 60 litres of "fuel".

    I wish my car was that effective. 1,67 million km per litre fuel (3.9 million miles per gallon) would have been nice.
  • I watched this video over and over and you can't tell me a plane hit the Pentgon from this video.
  • Millions of Renault cars rusting successfully in Europen scrap yards.

    • Actually, if it was a renault, it was probably constructed in such a way that least damage was done to both the contents of the probe and the moon (does no-one think of the moon!). Otherwise renault wouldn't have gotten their high NCAP crash ratings [] (high on pedestrian protection as well, compare that with your average hummer). Very funny ad they made about it: []
      • by turgid ( 580780 )

        Sorry, I'm showing my age here. Prior to the 1990s, Renault had a terrible reputation for rust.

  • buy the moon. Huh??
  • It can turn an unsuccessful landing into a successful crash.
  • I am so proud of the Scientists who envisioned this experiment but I have to ask,Why didn't you just go to the moon and set up a base to study this stuff? I mean we have a space station, Why not a moonbase? Crash land a satellite and study the wreck and and resulting plume for what? I gotta say that we sure are standing on our dicks with this whole moon business, we should have been colonizing it already.
  • did it run linux? :p

    it was probably running windows, and the agencies involved just said "yeah, we uh... wanted it to crash. thats right.."
  • ... A Smashing Success!
  • Wow, nearly forty years after the U.S. landed a man on the moon, the Europeans smash a spacecraft into it. The Russians and Americans are impressed...not.
    • Of course NASA can barely get a mission of the ground without something exploding on or falling off of the space shuttle and Russia is in the middle of an authoritarian boondoggle and is spending most of its time flying celebrities into space. But hey, who's counting?
      • by cjsm ( 804001 )

        Of course NASA can barely get a mission of the ground without something exploding on or falling off of the space shuttle and Russia is in the middle of an authoritarian boondoggle and is spending most of its time flying celebrities into space.

        That's why I'm glad the Europeans are helping to pick up the slack. I just had a hard time seeing crashing into the moon as a significant acomplishment as some stories,e.g. BBC seemed to make it out to be. Europe is the equal of the U.S. and Russia in overall te

    • by tenco ( 773732 )
      Maybe you don't know it, but crashing onto the moon was just 1 out of 3 of SMART-1's missions []. And maybe, just maybe, North Americans will be interested in the maps SMART-1 made of the moon...
  • ... if it was running Ubuntu. [Ducks and runs out before the rotten tomatoes get him]

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.