In the race to explore space, there may be a new moon on the rise. In the same week that NASA declared the Mars Phoenix mission over, India dropped an impactor, which crash-dived onto the moon's surface today, the Associated Press reports. The Moon Impactor Probe (MIP) was carried by India's moon satellite, Chandrayaan 1, which entered lunar orbit earlier this week.

The MIP, painted with the flag of India, was blown to smithereens after crashing into the moon at about 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) per hour. Before its planned crash, however, it sent photos and data that India will now use to plan a 2011 moon rover mission and a yet-unfunded manned mission. It was one of 11 instrument payloads on Chandrayaan 1, which means "moon craft" in Sanskrit.

India has now joined an elite group--the U.S., Russia, the European Space Agency, China, and Japan--that have sent missions to the moon.

Photo of a waxing gibbous moon by Kevin via Flickr