Japan's first lunar probe ends mission

Jun 11, 2009 By SHINO YUASA , Associated Press Writer
In this artist rendition released by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Japan's first lunar prob Kaguya orbits the moon in space. Kaguya made a controlled crash-landing on the moon Thursday, June 11, 2009, successfully completing a 19-month mission studying Earth's nearest neighbor, JAXA said. (AP Photo/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, HO)

(AP) -- Japan's first lunar probe made a controlled crash landing on the moon Thursday, successfully completing a 19-month mission to study the Earth's nearest neighbor, Japan's space agency said.

The remotely controlled satellite, named after the folklore princess Kaguya, had been orbiting the moon to map its surface and study its mineral distribution and gravity levels. It was dropped onto the surface of the moon at 3:25 am. (1825 GMT), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said in a statement.

"The mission was a success. Thanks to Kaguya, we will have a very detailed map of the ," said JAXA spokesman Shinichi Sobue. The Japanese space agency will analyze data sent by Kaguya and plans to publish the results online in November.

The 55 billion yen ($560 million) lunar mission launched in September 2007 is the largest in scope and ambition since the U.S. Apollo program of the 1960s and 70s, Sobue said.

"With data from Kaguya, we hope to shed light on the evolution of the moon," Sobue said.

During the Kaguya project, Japan launched two other orbiters to relay data. One landed on the moon in February, while the other has been measuring gravity around the moon and is still in orbit. Japan launched a probe in 1990, but that was a flyby mission.

Japan launched its first satellite in 1970 and has achieved several major scientific coups in space, including the launch of a probe that made a rendezvous with an asteroid. The Japanese-produced H-2A rocket is one of the world's most advanced and consistent.

In January, Japan launched the first satellite to monitor greenhouse gases, a tool to help scientists better judge where global warming emissions are coming from, and how much is being absorbed by the oceans and forests.

But its space program has also been beset by delays and mishaps.

In 2007, one of its four spy satellites became unresponsive due to apparent electrical problems. The other three satellites were functioning normally, but the failure left its multibillion dollar, long-awaited spy network with a significant hole.

A mission to Mars had to be abandoned in 2003 after a probe moved off course.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

India Plans for Lunar Mission in 2007

Jan 26, 2005

Indian Space Research Organisation's unmanned lunar mission will be launched in 2007 as scheduled, country's space program chairman said on Tuesday. If India's first lunar mission scheduled for 2007 is successful, it will ...

China Expected To Launch Lunar Probe Satellite In 2007

Aug 10, 2005

China is expected to launch its first ever lunar probe satellite in 2007, given that the country's moon exploration project has so far been proceeding smoothly, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation ...

Otherworldly Solar Eclipse

Feb 26, 2009

For the first time, a spacecraft from Earth has captured hi-resolution images of a solar eclipse while orbiting another world.

Recommended for you

Astronauts to reveal sobering data on asteroid impacts

16 hours ago

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… ...

Rosetta instrument commissioning continues

17 hours ago

We're now in week four of six dedicated to commissioning Rosetta's science instruments after the long hibernation period, with the majority now having completed at least a first initial switch on.

Astronaut salary

17 hours ago

Talk about a high-flying career! Being a government astronaut means you have the chance to go into space and take part in some neat projects—such as going on spacewalks, moving robotic arms and doing science ...

Red moon at night; stargazer's delight

Apr 16, 2014

Monday night's lunar eclipse proved just as delightful as expected to those able to view it. On the East Coast, cloudy skies may have gotten in the way, but at the National Science Foundation's National Optical ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Hubble image: A cross-section of the universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range ...

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.