Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

SMART-1 – All Set to Fly to the Moon

18.08.2003


Europe is going to the Moon for the first time! In just over two weeks the European Space Agency’s (ESA) lunar probe, SMART-1, begins its journey to the Moon. Due to be launched from Kourou in French Guiana on 3rd September (12.04 a.m. 4th September BST) SMART-1 will be powered only by an ion engine which Europe will be testing for the first time as the main spacecraft propulsion. Onboard will be D-CIXS, an X-ray spectrometer built by scientists in the UK, which will provide information on what the Moon is made of.

SMART-1 represents a new breed of spacecraft. It is ESA’s first Small Mission for Advanced Research in Technology – designed to demonstrate innovative and key technologies for future deep space science missions. As well as the ion propulsion mechanism SMART-1 will test miniaturised spacecraft equipment and instruments, a navigation system which in the long term will allow spacecraft to autonomously navigate through the solar system, and a space communication technique whereby SMART-1 will establish a link with the Earth using a laser beam.

Once it has arrived at the Moon (expected to be in January 2005), SMART-1 will perform an unprecedented scientific study of the Moon– providing valuable information which will shed light on some of the unanswered questions. The spacecraft will search for signs of water-ice in craters near the Moon’s poles, provide data on the still uncertain origin of the Moon and reconstruct its evolution by mapping and the surface distribution of minerals and key chemical elements.



Commenting on the mission Prof. Ian Halliday, Chief Executive of PPARC said," This mission to our only natural satellite is a masterpiece of miniaturisation and UK scientists have played a leading role in providing one of the spacecraft’s key instruments - testament to the UK’’s expertise in space science.” Halliday added, "SMART-1 is packed with innovative technology that promises to revolutionise our future exploration of neighbouring planets whilst answering some fundamental questions about the Moon - how did the Moon form and how did it evolve?"

UK scientists have a lead role in the mission. D-CIXS, a compact X-ray Spectrometer, which will make the first ever global X-ray map of the Moon’s surface, has been built by a team led by Principal Investigator Professor Manuel Grande from the CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford. Scientists from a number of other UK institutions are involved in D-CIXS (see notes to editors for further details).

Professor Grande explains how D-CIXS works,

“When the Sun shines on the Moon, its surface fluoresces and D-CIXS will measure the resulting X-rays to determine many of the elements found on its surface. This will provide us with vital clues which will help understand the origins of our Moon.”

Weighing just 4.5 kilograms and the size of a toaster, one of the challenges for the D-CIXS team has been to fit all the necessary components into the instrument. This has been achieved through clever miniaturisation and the development of new technology such as novel X-ray detectors – based on new swept charge devices (similar to the established charged couple devices found in much of today’s technology) and microfabricated collimators with walls no thicker than a human hair.

Lord Sainsbury, Minister for Science and Innovation at the Department of Trade and Industry said:
"SMART-1 is an unprecedented opportunity to provide the most comprehensive study ever of the surface of the Moon. The UK is playing a key role in this important European mission by providing technology that demonstrates excellent collaboration between engineering and science in this country. This mission will also give the European Space Agency the opportunity to develop new technology for future missions, demonstrating once again the effectiveness of joint working between the UK and our European partners in space."

Julia Maddock | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond
23.11.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy
22.11.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>