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Lunar explorer KAGUYA: Initial Check of Mission Instruments With First Light Images

Figure 1: Earth-rise image shot taken by the HDTV onboard the KAGUYA

KAGUYA (SELENE) is a lunar explorer that was launched on September 14, 2007 from Japan. On October 18, 2007, it was injected into a lunar orbit about 100 km above the surface of the Moon (Japan Standard Time; the following times and dates are all JST). After successfully being injected into its observation orbit, the functions of KAGUYA's 15 observation missions were verified as part of the initial checks that are to be performed until the middle of December 2007.

According to the press release on November 13:
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) have successfully taken the world's first high-definition images of an Earthrise* using KAGUYA.

According to the press release on November 28:
JAXA also successfully demonstrated the production of stereo movies (three-dimensional movies) of the Moon's surface using stereoscopic images obtained with the Terrain Camera (TC) onboard KAGUYA on November 3, 2007. These are the first 3-D movies of the Moon including its polar areas with an aerial resolution of 10 meters.

According to the press release on December 14:
JAXA verified that the Spectral Profiler (SP)* onboard the lunar explorer is functioning, and the data obtained is the world's first continuous reflectance spectra of the far side of the Moon in the visible and near infrared region.

*The Spectral Profiler (SP) uses its broad spectral coverage and high spectral and spatial resolution to perform global spectroscopic mapping of the Moon, which is necessary to determine the type and composition of minerals on the lunar surface.

Mr. Shiichi Sobue, a senior researcher of the KAGUYA project, told the APRSAF secretariat about these accomplishments and the project's next goal.

"The initial check of KAGUYA has been going well and almost all the initial checks of the mission instruments have now been successfully completed (December 12). Although KAGUYA is still in the initial phase of being checked, it has already provided many beautiful pieces of lunar data which no-one has ever seen before. When I saw the Earthset and Earthrise taken by the High Vision camera (HDTV) on KAGUYA, I realized the importance of a unique, small, frangible blue planet - the Earth. In addition, looking at the stereoscopic images with an aerial resolution of 10 meters taken by the Terrain Camera, I could imagine the origin and history of the Moon, Earth and solar system. KAGUYA will operate for about 10 months and provide a whole set of high-quality data about the Moon (including information about the Moon's elements, minerals, surface structure, gravity and magnetic fields). I hope KAGUYA provides very valuable information about our origins for the people around the world, in cooperation with other lunar explorers launched by countries such as China, India, and the US."


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