14 September 2007


SELENE, the Selenological & Engineering Explorer (also known as Kaguya) was launched today from Tanegashima, Japan.

ZUI this article from the Asahi Shimbun:
Japan on Friday successfully launched a lunar explorer into orbit on a mission dubbed the first full-scale exploration of the moon since the U.S. Apollo program.

The H2A rocket carrying the moon explorer Kaguya lifted off at 10:31 a.m. from the Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

About 45 minutes later, the rocket, the H2A Launch Vehicle No. 13, entered its elliptical orbit that circles the Earth at an altitude of between 280 and 233,000 kilometers.

And this from the Beeb:
The three-tonne probe is called Selene, the Selenological and Engineering Explorer.

It has been nicknamed Kaguya, after a princess in a folk story who ascended to the Moon.

The probe will orbit the Earth before travelling the 380,000km (237,500 miles) to the Moon.

There the main orbiting unit and two smaller satellites will be positioned 100km (60 miles) above the surface of the Moon.

Much more information is provided in this article from Spaceflight Now:
The Selenological and Engineering Explorer - or SELENE - is the first of four lunar explorers set for launch before the end of next year. Orbiters from China, India and the United States will soon join Kaguya at the moon.


Science objectives for the mission focus on uncovering mysteries about the origin and history of the moon. The probe will also help lay the groundwork for an onslaught of upcoming lunar missions.

Precise maps of mineral concentrations across the moon could be used to corroborate theories that material broke off from Earth to form the moon as a Mars-sized object crashed into the planet about 4.5 billion years ago.

A high-definition camera aboard SELENE will record high resolution video clips of the lunar surface and images of Earth rising above the moon's horizon. The camera features a telephoto lens to provide both wide-angle and zoomed-in imagery.

The camera will record the dramatic videos and later send the imagery back to ground stations for use in public relations and outreach activities. Japanese broadcasting giant NHK provided the camera to JAXA.

MHI photograph of SELENE's launch borrowed from the Spaceflight Now site linked to above.

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