SMART-1 lunar spacecraft

SMART-1 lunar spacecraft

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Credit: CHRISTIAN DARKIN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: SMART-1 lunar spacecraft in orbit over the Moon. This spacecraft is the first part of the European Space Agency (ESA) SMART (Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology) programme. It is the first ESA spacecraft to travel to and orbit the Moon. It is propelled by a new type of engine called an ion drive. The ion drive only provides a small amount of acceleration, but it will eventually reach greater speeds than those obtained by traditional engines. SMART-1 is due to arrive at the Moon in December 2004. It will orbit the Moon looking for water and carbon dioxide ices, and will analyse its composition to help understand the Moon's history.

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