Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
[ E-mail Share Share ]

Contact: Karina De Castris
European Space Agency

SMART images of the Moon

This image was taken on 29 December 2004. This image shows an area of the Moon featuring the Mouchez crater near to lunar zero longitude.
Click here for the big picture.

Europe has reached the Moon, and ESA's SMART-1 spacecraft is beginning to send back spectacular images of Earth’s neighbour.

This image was taken by the AMIE instrument on SMART-1 on 29 December 2004.
Click here for the big picture.

SMART-1 entered orbit around the Moon on 15 November 2004. Since then, the spacecraft has slowly spiralled closer to the surface, using its revolutionary ion engine.

By 29 December, the AMIE camera was able to start taking test images from 1,000 to 5,000 km above the battered landscape.

The first wide-angle view mainly shows ancient craters. The floors of some deep craters are hidden in shadow.

The mosaic strip of images was produced from images taken consecutively along orbit.
Click here for a high resolution photograph.

A more detailed image shows another area with impact craters of different sizes. The biggest of these, named Brianchon, is about 135 km across. Nearby is another large crater called Pascal. Both are named after famous French mathematicians.

The mosaic of images covers the 120 kilometre diameter Pythagoras complex impact crater.
Click here for the big picture.

Some images have been combined to make mosaics. One mosaic taken along a single orbit shows a diagonal strip across the northern hemisphere.

An enlarged section of this strip shows Pythagoras, a complex, 140-km-wide crater that was created by an asteroid impact billions of years ago. It is named after a mathematician from ancient Greece. More SMART images of the Moon will be returned until 9 February. The ion engine will then be restarted, and over the next three weeks the spacecraft’s elongated orbit will be lowered to between 300 and 3000 km.

Even more exciting results are expected after 28 February, when SMART-1 begins its main mission to study and map the lunar surface.