The European Space Agency's first mission to the moon ended with a deliberate bang on Sept. 3. The planned crash of the SMART-1 spacecraft, which had photographed the moon and mapped its mineral and elemental composition from lunar orbit since November 2004, created a flash caught by dozens of telescopes on Earth.
A newly installed infrared camera on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, located on Hawaii's Mauna Kea, pinpointed the crash and for at least 75 seconds, observed the expansion of the dust cloud generated by the high-speed impact.
This telescope and other ground-based instruments supplied astronomers with the first images from Earth of a lunar impact and its aftermath. Analysis of the dust cloud