Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

SMART-1 ‘star tracker’ peeks at the approaching lunar surface

30.08.2006
While ESA's SMART-1 mission is running on its last orbits around the Moon before its planned lunar impact on 3 September 2006, the spacecraft 'star tracker' – or attitude camera - is taking exciting pictures of the ever approaching surface.

One week before the end of the SMART-1 mission, the SMART-1 Mission Control Team at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Germany are working together with the Danish Technical University (DTU), manufacturer of the star tracker, to demonstrate that this attitude camera is not only capable of determining the spacecraft attitude by looking at the stars, but can also be used for exciting peeks at the Moon. The DTU star tracker is a light-weight instrument, weighing only 3.2 kilogrammes including the baffles, and operates highly autonomously.


This image of the lunar surface was taken on 23 August at 12:42 CEST (10:42 UT), by the star tracker (attitude camera) on board ESA’s SMART-1, from a distance of 165 kilometres above the Moon surface. SMART-1 was travelling at a speed of 1.93 kilometres per second. The two craters visible on the image are 'satellite' craters to the Neumayer crater. Satellite craters are identified by the name of their parent crater and an additional letter. On the star tracker image the crater with the sharp rim is called Neumayer M (located at a latitude of 71.6° South, and a longitude of 78.5° East) and the one with the smooth rim is called Neumayer N (at a latitude of 70.4° South, and a longitude of 78.7° East). The image is slightly smeared as the spacecraft is moving at high speed and at low altitude. This image was taken as a test, which means the spacecraft pointing was not optimised for taking images with the star tracker. Credits: ESA

With only a few days to go, the flight control team is taking advantage of the star tracker being blinded by the moonlight to fuel the imagination and take images at close distance.

The first image was taken on 23 August at 12:42 CEST (10:42 UT), from 165 kilometres above the Moon surface, while SMART-1 was travelling at a speed of 1.93 kilometres per second. The two craters visible on the image are 'satellite' craters to the Neumayer crater. Satellite craters are identified by the name of their parent crater and an additional letter.

On the star tracker image the crater with the sharp rim is called Neumayer M (located at a latitude of 71.6° South, and a longitude of 78.5° East) and the one with the smooth rim is called Neumayer N (at a latitude of 70.4° South, and a longitude of 78.7° East). The image is slightly smeared as the spacecraft is moving at high speed and at low altitude. This image was taken as a test, which means the spacecraft pointing was not optimised for taking images with the star tracker.

Additional test images were taken by the star tracker on 25 August, from 165 and 59 kilometres altitude, respectively. The first image was taken while the spacecraft was moving at a speed of 2 kilometres per second, while the second image was taken when SMART-1 was travelling at 1.6 kilometres per second.

On Tuesday 29 August the spacecraft is in a favourable position to take the most exciting images so far. At that time the star tracker will have both the Earth and the Moon in its field of view, with the Earth about to disappear on the Moon's horizon.

To calibrate the star tracker and to ensure safe star tracker operation, the Flight Control Team at ESOC have taken test images with new star tracker settings provided by DTU. The resulting images already show a breath-taking view of the Moon.

"The star tracker provided its first images of the Milky Way a few days after SMART-1 was 'born' in space", says SMART-1 Project scientist Bernard Foing, "and it is also witnessing the last moments from the vehicle as if we were on board."

Bernard Foing | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/SMART-1/SEMPFY5LARE_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms
20.02.2018 | Institute for Basic Science

nachricht Observing and controlling ultrafast processes with attosecond resolution
20.02.2018 | Technische Universität München

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: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>