It may have been obliterated on the surface of the moon but the European Space Agency is hailing the work of the SMART-1 probe as a great success. The unmanned craft smashed into a crater in an intentionally dramatic climax to its three-year mission. Scientist Manuel Grande voiced the emotions of his colleagues:
“Surprisingly, I feel very happy. It’s been a great five years. We were in at the first conception of it; we were in at the launch, now you’re in at the death. There are not many space missions where you can say that. You can do the experiment, you can see the answers and you can take them on to the next mission,” he said.
The mission yielded important information about the chemical make-up of the moon that could tell us more about its origins. SMART-1 tested new deep-space communication techniques that could play a role in future missions. It also pioneered techniques to achieve autonomous spacecraft navigation. After the celebrations die down the scientists will begin analysing the mass of data acquired by the probe.