June 11, 2009

Japan’s Lunar Probe Mission Comes To Successful End

Japan's first lunar probe made a successful crash landing on the surface of the moon, marking the end of its 19-month mission, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced on Thursday.

Kaguya, named after a moon princess of Japanese folklore, began orbiting the moon in 2007. The probe crash-landed on the lunar surface at 1825 GMT.

"The mission was a success. Thanks to Kaguya, we will have a very detailed map of the lunar surface," said JAXA spokesman Shinichi Sobue.

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

The Kaguya mission was the most comprehensive lunar mission since the US Apollo program, said JAXA. The probe studied the geology and gravity levels of the moon.

"We will now fully analyze the massive volume of data collected by Kaguya and do our utmost to help the advancement of lunar science," said project manager Susumu Sasaki.

The space agency launched two other orbiters during the Kaguya project. One landed on the moon in February and the other is still orbiting the planet and collecting data.

Earlier this year, JAXA launched Ibuki, the first-ever satellite aimed at collecting data on how the Earth is emitting greenhouse gases.


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