SMART-1 Snaps Image of Hadley Rille on the Moon

The European Space Agency’s SMART-1 spacecraft continues to capture images of the Moon in a mission to test new technologies and return new data about our nearest celestial neighbor. In one of the latest images, Hadley Rille, an enormous lava channel over 3.3 billion years old, stretches toward Mount Hadley in the upper right. Geologists believe the formation was created when lava still flowed on the surface of the Moon early in its formation. Because the Moon is so small, it lost much of its internal heat early. Heavy bombardment by meteors and/or comets also likely ended early in its history. Without an atmosphere or lengthy internal heating like the Earth, the Moon’s surface is static and ancient.

Apollo 15 astronauts landed near Hadley Rille in 1971. The United States hopes to return humans to the Moon by 2020. They will make use of data returned by SMART-1 and future lunar orbiters, landers, and rovers to work out requirements for manned missions and eventual outposts and colonies.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet. His first published poem, "Roadside Freak Show," arrives on August 21, 2017 in Impossible Archetype.  His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).