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September 2, 2006 9:45 AM   Subscribe

On September 2nd at 10:41 p.m. PDT the ESA's Smart-1 will crash into the moon. While no one is certain how bright the impact will be, some believe it may be visible to amateur astronomers. We've discussed this before, but tonight's the night!
posted by quin (17 comments total)

 
Not just into the moon, but into the Lake of Excellence
posted by Flashman at 9:57 AM on September 2, 2006


Well, there's not much of any atmosphere for fireworks, and I can't picture any situation where a pile of junk slamming into rocks at high speed would produce more than some dim sparks. Plus my backyard telescope resolves about 1.5 arc-seconds; that works out to just under 2 miles resolution at lunar distance. So I guess I'm going to sleep through this one.
posted by chef_boyardee at 10:11 AM on September 2, 2006


Smart-1 will crash into the moon

Wait. Shouldn't that be Dumb-1?

(And sheesh, what ever happened to "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints?" Leave no trace my ass.)
posted by eriko at 10:22 AM on September 2, 2006


Reminds me of a Mr. Show sketch...

More seriously, if the crash exposes water ice to the surface, that'd be pretty cool. Relatively speaking, of course.
posted by Iridic at 10:30 AM on September 2, 2006


Excellence to the MAX!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:35 AM on September 2, 2006


For the record, as the moon is airless, there won't be much of an explosion. But what they are trying to do is crash in such a way that it will leave a long trench that will kick up a lot of dust. Since they are doing this on a part of the moon that is currently not in direct sunlight, the hope is that the dust will rise high enough to become illuminated and thus visible to us.
posted by quin at 10:41 AM on September 2, 2006


I am hoping the moon men do not take this as a declaration of war.
posted by LarryC at 11:20 AM on September 2, 2006


the hope is that the dust will rise high enough to become illuminated and thus visible to us.

Thus proving once and for all that the moon is dusty. OK, not really. The crash is incidental and the possible observation of dust is fun for the kids. FAQ:
At impact, its vertical speed will be only 70 kilometres per hour, which is less than some ski jumpers achieve.

Possibly SMART-1 will skid for a short distance after impact, throwing up dust ahead of it and spraying dust out on either side like the wings of a butterfly. The crater made by SMART-1 will be 3 to 10 metres wide and perhaps a metre deep. [...]
But the reason for the mission was something else altogether:
SMART stands for Small Mission for Advanced Research and Technology. The major technological demonstration was the first use of solar electric propulsion for interplanetary travels, in combination with gravity assist manoeuvres. Such a propulsion system will be used for ESA’s BepiColombo mission going to the planet Mercury. [...]

As for our investigation of the Moon itself, SMART-1 has mainly studied the past impacts that have created all those craters on the Moon. Having 16 months in close orbit instead of the 4 months initially planned, SMART-1’s camera has built up a large library of images of craters large and small all over the Moon, not least around the poles where previous observations were patchy. [...]
posted by pracowity at 11:31 AM on September 2, 2006


ESA published several predicted of impact time, using fresh data from last night's orbital manoeuvre. The revised best guess is 10:42pm PDT. However, they seem to ndicate that it could crash on any of the five orbits between 10:32am PDT today and 8:52am PDT tomorrow.
posted by crysflame at 12:04 PM on September 2, 2006


I'll wait for it to come out on video youtube.
posted by kozad at 12:57 PM on September 2, 2006


All I see is tomorrow evening:

At the beginning of July this year, the lunar phase was similar to the one that observers on Earth will see at the expected time SMART-1's impact, now expected on 3 September 2006 at 07:42 CEST.
posted by davelog at 1:58 PM on September 2, 2006


tomorrow evening: ... 3 September 2006 at 07:42 CEST. - davelog

uhh... that's morning. If it was evening, it would be 19:42.
posted by raedyn at 4:55 PM on September 2, 2006


Dang, it's raining here in Philadelphia. I'm stil going to stay up and see if a clearing comes. Great event. My first big event, the one that got me looking through scopes and using SLRs? Kahoutek. Good times, Old Max, good times.
posted by orchidthief at 6:46 PM on September 2, 2006


uhh... that's morning. If it was evening, it would be 19:42.

Well, there goes my dinner & astronomy spectacular.
posted by davelog at 8:28 PM on September 2, 2006


Well, it happened as scheduled; did anybody see anything interesting?
posted by gubo at 11:15 PM on September 2, 2006


So now we need to wait for SMART-2 to see the crater from SMART-1?
posted by pracowity at 11:14 AM on September 3, 2006


I was watching (in LA) with binoculars and didn't see a thing.
posted by jjwiseman at 2:35 PM on September 3, 2006


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