Smart 1 Takes First Close-Up Pictures of the Moon
Paris, France - Smart 1, the European Space Agency's (ESA) Lunar orbiter, has begun its scientific work. In late December and through much of January, while orbiting the Moon at altitudes ranging from 1000 to 5000 kilometers, the spacecraft took crystal-clear close-range photographs of the Lunar surface using its AMIE camera. A sampling of the images is provided here.
Smart 1 was also launched on a conventional rocket, but that only took it into low Earth orbit. Its main propulsion system is a solar-electric ion drive, which uses solar energy to send out a steady stream of high-speed ions from the craft, and thereby propel it forward.