European automatic station "Smart-1", launched to the Moon in September last year, entered the lunar orbit. This is the first European spacecraft, which managed to reach the orbit of Earth's natural satellite.
Yesterday on "Smart-1" in order to reach the moon's orbit, including an ion engine. This engine throws a stream of charged ions, thereby "Smart 1" is moving forward. The engine is powered by solar panels and is therefore called the "photoelectric".
This engine does not create a sharp acceleration as a regular missile, but in the long term, is seen as a far more effective. However, for short haul flights devices with ion engines develop not too high a speed.
Continuous operation of the engine in the next four days should lead to the fact that the gravitational force of the moon will begin to pull the machine. As a result, "Smart-1" will be closer to Earth satellite in a spiral — until it reaches the surface of the moon.
It is expected that the device will be able to start collecting scientific data in early 2005. Scientists hope that this will allow scientists to test theories about the origin and evolution of the moon. "We believe that the moon — a" daughter "of the Earth, which appeared (4.5 billion years ago) when the planetary body the size of Mars collided with the Earth," — said the representative of ESA Bernard Foing. As a result, he said, have broken away from the Earth part of the top layer. These fragments entered the orbit of the Earth, eventually forming the moon. On the other hand, the study of the moon is able to shed some light on how the early Earth could look like.
"Smart-1" should study the largest crater in the solar system — a huge hole on the moon. "Looking" in this crater, it will be possible to analyze the rocks, which are located deep within the Earth's satellite. Will "Smart-1" and the search for ice in deep craters of the moon, as well as the possible construction materials for future lunar base.
Thanks to new technologies, "Smart-1" was built quickly and for relatively little money — 110 million euros, together with the costs of starting. Savings were achieved through miniaturization — "Smart-1" weighs only 367 kg, but contains an ultra-modern equipment. This is the BBC.
Battery News, 16.11.2004 18:17