Feeds

Postcard arrives from Europe's lunar probe

Lots of craters, not many locals

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

New hybrid storage solutions

The first pictures from the SMART-1 lunar probe, the first European spacecraft to have reached lunar orbit, have arrived on Earth. The images were snapped from altitudes of between 5000km and 1000km above the lunar surface during a test of the craft's instruments.

First European pictures of the moon: Source ESA

This picture shows two large craters. The largest is called Brianchon, and the second largest, at the bottom of the image, is called Pascal. Researchers use the shadow lengths to calculate the depth of the craters, and the height of the crater rims.

"This image was the first proof that the AMIE camera is still working well in lunar orbit," says AMIE principal investigator Jean-Luc Josset of Space-X.

The craft arrived at its destination in mid-November 2004, 13 months after it launched from Earth; it did not travel by the most straightforward of routes. Although the moon is only 380,000km away [Only? - Ed] in a straight line, SMART-1 orbited the Earth more than 300 times, and travelled a total distance of 84mkm. This could have got it to Mars and back, quite comfortably, if it had travelled in a straight line.

When it first arrived it was at risk of missing a stable orbit and either crashing into the surface, or skipping past the moon altogether. Mission scientists used the ion-engine to control its descent, and it has now spent the last two months gradually spiraling towards the surface.

Now that its orbit is stabilised, SMART-1 will scan the lunar surface for resources, particularly water, for future, manned, missions to the moon. The European Space Agency says it will continue its medium resolution survey until 9 February. Astronomers hope the data it sends will reveal more about how the moon first formed. ®

Related stories

SMART-1 makes lunar orbit
ESA's lunar probe closes on target
China plans five-day space mission

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
Square Kilometre Array reveals its 1.6TB-a-day storage and network rigs
Boolardy Engineering Test Array - aka BETA - is about to come out of Beta
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.