Europe's first spacecraft to the moon ended its three-year mission yesterday with a planned crash on the lunar surface, hitting its target at 2kps, or 7,200kph.
The impact, in a volcanic plain called the Lake of Excellence, was captured by observers on earth, and scientists hoped the resulting cloud of dust and debris would provide clues to the geologic composition of the site.
"That's it -- we are in the Lake of Excellence," said spacecraft operations chief Octavio Camino as applause broke out in the European Space Agency's mission control center in Darmstadt, Germany. "We have landed."
Minutes later, a video screen on the control room wall showed an image of the bright flash from the impact. The infrared image was captured by the Canada France Hawaii Telescope on Mount Kea in Hawaii.
"It was a great mission and a great success and now it's over," mission manager Gerhard Schwehm said.
During its months in orbit around the moon, the spacecraft scanned the lunar surface from orbit and took high-resolution pictures. But its primary mission was testing a new, efficient, ion propulsion system officials hope to use on future interplanetary missions including the BepiColombo mission to Mercury slated for 2013.
Launched into Earth's orbit by an Ariane-5 booster rocket from Kourou, French Guiana, in September 2003, Smart-1 used its ion engine to slowly raise its orbit over 14 months until the moon's gravity grabbed it.
The engine, which uses electricity from the craft's solar panels to produce a stream of charged particles called ions, generates only small amounts of thrust but only needed 80kg of xenon fuel.
The craft's X-ray and infrared spectrometers have gathered information about the moon's geology that scientists hope will advance their knowledge about how the moon's surface evolved and test theories about how the moon came into being.
On Saturday, mission controllers had to raise the craft's orbit by 600m to avoid hitting a crater rim on final approach. Had the orbit not been raised, the craft would have crashed one orbit too soon, making the impact difficult or impossible to observe.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after