Under the happy headline “Space Probe Slams Into Moon,” the shameless techno-boosters at Space.com note Sept. 4:
A European lunar orbiter was purposely slammed into the Moon today.
The high-tech spacecraft—Small Missions for Advanced Research and Technology—belongs to the European Space Agency (ESA), and is better known as SMART-1.
The controlled crash of the probe was staged to allow a ground-based network of astronomers to possibly examine material kicked up from the Moon by the impact, thereby squeezing additional science out of the mission.
Predicted effects from the high-speed crash ranged from a quick flash to a possible fireball if the spacecraft ricochets across the lunar surface due to leftover hydrazine fuel onboard SMART-1. Moments before impact, scientists did not know what to expect.
“Suddently we lost the signal of the spacecraft,” said Detlef Koschny, ESA SMART-1 scientist at a control center in Germany, who spoke to reporters via a teleconference arranged by the Planetary Society. “All we know is that the impact did occur.”
Koschny said that the impact occurred within seconds of the predicted time. The impact was indicated by the loss of communication from the craft, which was destroyed. Impact was at 1:42 a.m. ET.
“They went out with a bang,” said Bruce Betts of the Planetary Society.
The high-speed slam dunk was expected to create yet another crater on the Moon—perhaps some 16 feet to 33 feet (5-10 meters) across. Dust and other material ejected off the Moon were expected to possibly be visible to observers with big telescopes back here on Earth.
A flash from the impact was recorded by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope atop Mauna Kea, but no details were available at the time this update was published.
A similarly angst-free report from the European Space Agency (ESA) boasts that the probe made impact at the poetically-named Lake of Excellence.
The most depressing thing about this is that with all the horrors going on down here on Planet Earth, not a single peep of protest has been raised about this unprovoked attack on our own natural satellite, and the contamination for all eternity of the once-pristine orb with industrial debris. And if it weren’t bad enough that the Moon is being turned into a junk yard, such hubristic experiments (carried out in the name of “science,” as if it were something detatched from politics and economics) merely bring us closer to the colonization of space by corporate power for mineral exploitation, and by Earth’s militaries as a new theater for war.
And of course, the “Third World” just can’t wait to emulate the bad example of the Europeans and Americans. The Sept. 7 New Scientist notes that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to send a probe dubbed Chandrayan (Sanskrit for “moon vehicle”) to Luna in 2008.
We propose SMART-1 be posthumously dubbed, in honor of its makers and boosters, Deranged Uber-Menschen Bombardiers (DUMB-1)
See our last post on hubristic space geeks.