Medicina(BO) and Noto(SR) radiotelescopes
29 august - 3 september 2006

The Smart-1 spacecraft is the first European mission to conduct an observational scientific program about the moon. It was lunched on 27 September 2003 from the European spaceport in French (Guyane). It was captured by the moon gravity in November 2003 and it will end its voyage on 3 September 2006 when hitting the lunar surface.

Some Italian radioastronomers will perform an innovative experiment related to Smart-1 on 29-30-31 August 2006.  By virtue of sincronous observations made by the Medicina (near Bologna) radiotelescope and the Noto (near Siracusa) radiotelescope, key measurements will be conducted to confirm the presence of a tiny ionosphere extending into space up to about 50 km.

On 3 September 2006 the Smart-1 spacecraft will end its mission by crashing on lunar surface. Although ESA planned as carefully as possible for the impact to occurr at 5:40 UT on 3 September, there is some chance that the probe might crash earlier or later by an amount of up to two orbits, i.e by 10 hours earlier or later than scheduled. The Italian team may thus have a chance to see the crash from Noto only that would be otherwise impossible to see at 5:40 UT because the moon will be below the horizon. If luck will let see the crash at the water maser frequency of 22 GHz, they will be able to confirm whether there was water on the moon at the impact site.

The final goal of this experiment is to determine the radial density, the refraction index, and other data of the tiny lunar ionosphere. All these data will in turn by pivotal for the future construction of a radiotelescope inside crater Daedalus that is the most shielded crater (in the middle of the moon farside) from the terrible radio noise produced by the expanding human civilization on Earth.

The Italian team is made up by Salvatore Pluchino (P.I.), Francesco Schillirò, Claudio Maccone, Luca Derosa, Christian M. Firrone.

P.I. Salvatore Pluchino ( +39 333 3396372

Smart-1 experiment live !

Monday august 28th 2006 
The team works on hardware-software system at VLBI after last calculus tests were performed. Last details are defined. The Smart-1 signal, at the beginning, does not seem to be in the expected region of the sky.

Thursday august 29th 2006 
The SMART-1 S-band signal captured by Medicina radiotelescope! 

The tests will continue waiting for the next occultation.

Wednesday august 30th 2006 
After a heavy work morning, the observations begin at 15:00 UT. Smart-1 spacecraft looms up on the screen with two beautiful lateral lobes. Radioastronomers win the fight against coordinates.  
The work will not stop.

Thursday 31 august 2006 
The observations start at 12:15 U.T. 
Smart-1 signal looms up on the screen since the first hours of the evening, displaying its presence on 2,2 GHz band frequency. During the experiment, Noto and Medicina radioastronomers follow Smart-1 successfully, despite of its high speed.  
The experiment goes on...

Friday september 1st, 2006 
Medicina and Noto radiotelescopes continue to get new records from the spacecraft.  
Waiting for the impact becomes spasmodic.

Saturday  september 2nd , 2006 
News from here. 
Today Smart-1 will not generate lunar radio occultations visible from Italy. 
After instruments calibration and scheduling Noto observation, the last part of the experiment begins at 18:00 U.T.

Expecting new data. The crash is approaching...

Sunday  september 3rd , 2006 
The impact has come. 
Smart-1 spacecraft fell in “Excellence lake” at 05:42 U.T, 30° below the horizon, hiding to our eyes.  
However, data recorded in "total power" are hundreds and hundreds Gigas of disc memory. Only the analysis will show us if the predictions about the existence of a lunar ionosphere was correct.  
The work starts now...


ing. Stelio Montebugnoli, dott.ssa Simona Righini, ing. Beppe Maccaferri, ing. Francesco Schillirò




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