The final orbits of the European Space Agency's (ESA) SMART-1 spacecraft offered new opportunities for taking images of the moon. The craft continued collecting valuable scientific data up until the completion of its mission, when it was placed on an impact course and crashed into the lunar surface. Even data from the craft's mission-ending impact provided information about lunar physics and spacecraft behavior that will be used when determining landing sites for future lunar missions.
Information from SMART-1 will help us understand how the moon was formed and, in turn, can tell us a great deal about the history and evolution of our own planet. SMART-1 will also help scientists better understand the Earth-Moon system and provide information that will aid in developing potential long-duration human missions to the Moon. Developing a human presence on the Moon could be a stepping stone to further locations like Mars, and the technologies being tested aboard SMART-1 may help to make such missions possible.
More on this story Full text of original item from ESA, Sep 04, 2006