Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Last Ion Engine Thrust Puts SMART-1 On The Right Track For Its Moon Encounter

Date:
October 19, 2004
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
From 10 to 14 October the ion engine of ESA’s SMART-1 carried out a continuous thrust manoeuvre in a last major push that will get the spacecraft to the Moon capture point on 13 November.

Artist's impression of SMART-1.
Credit: Image courtesy of European Space Agency

From 10 to 14 October the ion engine of ESA’s SMART-1 carried out a continuous thrust manoeuvre in a last major push that will get the spacecraft to the Moon capture point on 13 November.

SMART-1, on its way to the Moon, has now covered more than 80 million kilometres. Its journey started on 27 September 2003, when the spacecraft was launched on board an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Since then, it has been spiralling in progressively larger orbits around Earth, to eventually be captured by the lunar gravity and enter into orbit around the Moon in November this year.

The SMART-1 mission was designed to pursue two main objectives. The first is purely technological: to demonstrate and test a number of space techniques to be applied to future interplanetary exploration missions. The second goal is scientific, mainly dedicated to lunar science. It is the technology demonstration goal, in particular the first European flight test of a solar-powered ion engine as a spacecraft’s main propulsion system, that gave shape to the peculiar route and duration (13 months) of the SMART-1 journey to the Moon.

The long spiralling orbit around Earth, which is bringing the spacecraft closer and closer to the Moon, is needed for the ion engine to function and be tested over a distance comparable to that a spacecraft would travel during a possible interplanetary trip. The SMART-1 mission is also testing the response of a spacecraft propelled by such an engine during gravity-assisted manoeuvres. These are techniques currently used on interplanetary journeys, which make use of the gravitational pull of celestial objects (e.g. planets) for the spacecraft to gain acceleration and reach its final target while saving fuel.

In SMART-1’s case, the Moon’s gravitational pull has been exploited in three 'lunar resonance' manoeuvres. The first two successfully took place in August and September 2004. The last resonance manoeuvre was on 12 October, during the last major ion engine thrust, which lasted nearly five days, from 10 to 14 October. Thanks to this final thrust, SMART-1 will make two more orbits around Earth without any further need to switch on the engine, apart from minor trajectory correction if needed. The same thrust will allow the spacecraft to progressively fall into the natural sphere of attraction of the Moon and start orbiting around it from 13 November, when it is 60 000 kilometres from the lunar surface.

SMART-1 will reach its first perilune (initial closest distance from the lunar surface) on 15 November, while the ion engine is performing its first and major thrust in orbit around the Moon. After that it will continue orbiting around the Moon in smaller loops until it reaches its final operational orbit (spanning between 3000 and 300 kilometres over the Moon’s poles) in mid-January 2005. From then, for six months Smart-1 will start the first comprehensive survey of key chemical elements on the lunar surface and will investigate the theory of how the Moon was formed.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Last Ion Engine Thrust Puts SMART-1 On The Right Track For Its Moon Encounter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041019084307.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2004, October 19). Last Ion Engine Thrust Puts SMART-1 On The Right Track For Its Moon Encounter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041019084307.htm
European Space Agency. "Last Ion Engine Thrust Puts SMART-1 On The Right Track For Its Moon Encounter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041019084307.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

A Hoax? Cosmetics Company Wants To Brighten The Moon

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) FOREO, a Swedish cosmetics company, says it wants to brighten the moon to lower electricity costs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) On it's second attempt this week, The Space X company launched Friday from Cape Canaveral to ferry supplies to the International Space Station. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unmanned Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

Unmanned Falcon 9 Rocket Blasts Off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 18, 2014) The rocket, built and operated by Space Exploration Technologies, carries a Dragon cargo ship loaded with supplies and equipment destined for the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth's Near-Twin Found Orbiting Red Dwarf

Earth's Near-Twin Found Orbiting Red Dwarf

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The newly-discovered planet is roughly the size of Earth and could have liquid water on its surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins