SNECMA PPS-1350 ion engine will provide SMART-1's primary propulsion. The glow comes from the accelerated atoms of xenon gas.
SMART-1 is the first of ESA’s Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology. It will head for the Moon using solar-electric propulsion and carrying a battery of miniaturised instruments. As well as testing new technology, SMART-1 will make the first comprehensive inventory of key chemical elements in the lunar surface. It will also investigate the theory that the Moon was formed following the violent collision of a smaller planet with Earth, four and a half thousand million years ago.