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Swedish probe crashes on moon

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12:27 CEST+02:00
The Swedish-developed space probe SMART-1 crashed on the moon at 7.42am on Sunday - exactly as planned.

Astronomers around the world had urged to try to observe the spectacular conclusion to the probe, which was developed by the Swedish Space Corporation in Solna at the request of the European Space Agency.

The probe has been orbiting the moon since November 2004.

At 7.42 on Sunday morning Swedish time the probe collided with the moon's surface, the news agency AFP confirmed. The impact was calculated to have created a crater between three and ten metres in diameter.

Several of the world's biggest telescopes were trained on the moon on Sunday morning in the hope of observing the impact, either as a weak flash of light or a very big dust cloud.

The Swedish research satellite Odin was also expected to be in a position to capture the collision with its radio receivers.

The probe approached the moon at a very shallow angle and at a speed of around 2 kilometres per second. It was initially planned to take place on August 17th, but it was postponed until Sunday so that it would be visible from Earth.

The probe's objective was primarily to test solar energy technology for powering such devices, and the mission was said to have been a success. The probe also carried out a number of scietific studies with the help of newly-developed miniature instruments.

As it orbited, the probe has been taking detailed pictures of the moon's surface in order to help document its minerals.

SMART-1 was dispatched from Kourou in French Guyana in September 2003 and began orbiting the moon in November 2004. It was the first time that Europe had sent a craft to the moon.

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