Japan lunar orbiter frees mini-satellite

October 10, 2007

Japan's unmanned lunar orbiter has started taking pictures and released a miniature satellite to help map the moon.

The Kaguya lunar craft, launched Sept. 14, jettisoned the first of its two 110-pound "baby" satellites Monday, Space.com reported Tuesday. The second mini-satellite is to be released Oct. 14, the space Web site said.

Kaguya is to produce detailed studies of the moon using 14 science instruments from a height of about 62 miles above the moon's surface during its one-year mission. The spacecraft to produce high-resolution surface and gravity maps, observe the moon's magnetic fields and search for water ice, among other science objectives.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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