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SELENE /ˈsɛlᵻniː/; Selenological and Engineering Explorer, better known in Japan by its nickname Kaguya かぐや, was the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft following the Hiten probe1 Produced by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science ISAS and the National Space Development Agency NASDA, the spacecraft was launched on September 14, 2007 After successfully orbiting the Moon for a year and eight months, the main orbiter was instructed to impact on the lunar surface near the crater Gill on June 10, 20092


  • 1 Nickname
  • 2 Mission objectives
  • 3 Launch
  • 4 Lunar operations
  • 5 Design
    • 51 Main orbiter7
    • 52 Okina small relay satellite
    • 53 Ouna VLBI satellite
  • 6 Payload
  • 7 Results
  • 8 Other lunar probes
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 External links


The orbiter's nickname, Kaguya, was selected by the general public It comes from the name of a lunar princess in the ancient Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter3 After their successful release, its sub-satellites, Rstar and Vstar, were named Okina and Ouna, also derived from characters in the tale4

Mission objectivesedit

The main scientific objectives of the mission were to:

  • Study the origins of the Moon and its geologic evolution
  • Obtain information about the lunar surface environment
  • Perform radio science, especially precise measurement of the Moon's gravity field


Launch of H-IIA F13 carrying SELENE Photo by Narita Masahiro

SELENE launched on 14 September 2007 at 01:31:01 UTC on an H-IIA Model H2A2022 carrier rocket from Tanegashima Space Center into a 28155-kilometre 17495 mi perigee / 232,960-kilometre 144,750 mi apogee geocentric parking orbit56 The total launch mass was 3,020 kilograms 6,660 lb7

The SELENE mission was originally scheduled to launch in 2003, but rocket failures on another mission and technical difficulties delayed the launch until 20078 Launch was planned for August 16, 2007, but was postponed when some electronic components were found to be installed incorrectly9

Lunar operationsedit

On October 3, it entered an initial 101-to-11,741-kilometre 63 to 7,296 mi polar lunar orbit10 On October 9, the relay satellite was released into a 100-to-2,400-kilometre 62 to 1,491 mi orbit, while on October 12 the VLBI satellite was released into a 100-to-800-kilometre 62 to 497 mi one4 Finally, by October 19, the orbiter was in a circular 100-kilometre 62 mi orbit11 The nominal mission duration was one year plus possible extensions

On October 31, 2007, Kaguya deployed its Lunar Magnetometer, Lunar Radar Sounder, Earth-looking Upper Atmosphere and Plasma Imager On December 21, 2007, Kaguya began regular operations after all fifteen observation experiments had been satisfactorily verified

Kaguya completed the planned operation by the end of October 2008 and began extended operations planned to continue through March 2009 It would then be sent into a circular 50-kilometre 31 mi orbit, and finally to an elliptical 20-to-100-kilometre 12 to 62 mi one, with a controlled impact occurring by August 200912 Because of a degraded reaction wheel, the plan was changed so that on February 1, 2009, the orbit was lowered to 50 kilometres 31 mi ± 20 kilometres 12 mi,13 and impact occurred at 18:25 UTC on June 10, 20092


The mission featured three separate spacecraft:

Main orbiter7edit

  • Shape: octagonal prism
  • Mass: 2,914 kilograms 6,424 lb
  • Size: 21 x 21 x 48 m 69 x 69 x 16 ft
  • Attitude control: Three-axis stabilized
  • Power: 35 kW Max
  • Mission period: 1 year
  • Mission orbit: Circular, 100-kilometre 62 mi
  • Inclination: 90 degrees

Okina small relay satelliteedit

Okina formerly Rstar and Ouna formerly Vstar were octagonal prisms to support radio science Okina relayed radio communications between the orbiter and the Earth when the orbiter was behind the Moon This allowed, for the first time, the direct Doppler shift measurements needed to precisely map the gravitational field of the lunar farside; previously, the farside gravity field could only be inferred by nearside measurements The relay satellite impacted the lunar farside near the Mineur D crater at 19:46 JST 10:46 UTC on February 12, 200913

  • Function: two-way radio science relay, orbiter-earth
  • Mass: 53 kilograms 117 lb7
  • Size: 10 x 10 x 065 m 33 x 33 x 21 ft
  • Attitude control: spin-stabilized
  • Power: 70 W
  • Initial orbit: 100 to 2,400 kilometres 62 to 1,491 mi
  • Inclination: 90 degrees

Ouna VLBI satelliteedit

Ouna used Very Long Baseline Interferometry as a second way to map the Moon's gravity field It was especially useful at the lunar limb, where the gravitational acceleration is perpendicular to the line of sight to earth, making Doppler measurements unsuitable

  • Function: VLBI radio science
  • Mass: 53 kilograms 117 lb
  • Size: 10 x 10 x 065 m 33 x 33 x 21 ft
  • Attitude control: spin-stabilized
  • Power: 70 W
  • Initial orbit: 100 to 800 kilometres 62 to 497 mi
  • Inclination: 90 degrees


SELENE carried 13 scientific instruments "to obtain scientific data of the lunar origin and evolution and to develop the technology for the future lunar exploration":14

  • Terrain camera TC resolution 10 meters 33 ft per pixel15
  • X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer XRS
  • Lunar magnetometer LMAG
  • Spectral profiler SP resolution per pixel: 562 x 400 m 1840 x 1310 ft
  • Multi-band imager MI resolution of visible light 20 66 ft meters per pixel, near-infrared 62 meters 200 ft per pixel
  • Laser altimeter LALT
  • Lunar radar sounder LRS
  • Gamma ray spectrometer GRS
  • Charged particle spectrometer CPS
  • Plasma analyzer PACE
  • Upper atmosphere and plasma imager UPI
  • Radio wave repeater RSAT aboard Okina
  • Radio wave source for VLBI VRAD aboard Okina and Ouna

Two 22 megapixel CCD HDTV cameras, one wide-angle and one telephoto, were also on board, primarily for public relations purposes16

JAXA collected names and messages that were carried on SELENE through their "Wish Upon the Moon" campaign17 412,627 names and messages were printed on a sheet measuring 280 mm x 160 mm 11 x 63 in at 70 µm 00003 in per character The sheet was installed under the photovoltaic modules and cooling panels beneath the multi-layered insulation18


Major results include:

  • Improved lunar global topography maps19 This detailed altitude and geological data is provided to Google for free to make Google Moon 3-D
  • Detailed gravity map of the far side of the Moon20
  • First optical observation of the permanently shadowed interior of the crater Shackleton at the lunar south pole21

Other lunar probesedit

Map of the lunar south pole showing the SELENE craft at the left

SELENE was part of a renewed global interest in lunar exploration; it was "the largest lunar mission since the Apollo program"22 It followed Japan's first lunar probe, Hagoromo, launched in 1990123 China launched its Chang'e 1 lunar explorer on October 24, 2007, followed by India's 22 October 2008 launch of Chandrayaan-1 and the United States Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009 The United States, European countries ESA, Russia, Japan, India and China are planning future manned lunar exploration missions or lunar outpost construction on the Moon between 2018 and 202524

See alsoedit

  • Spaceflight portal
  • SELENE-2
  • List of future lunar missions
  • Exploration of the Moon


  1. ^ a b "Kaguya – Another Chapter for the Lunar Saga" Red Orbit 14 September 2007 Retrieved 2007-09-14 
  2. ^ a b "KAGUYA Lunar Impact" JAXA Retrieved 2009-06-24 
  3. ^ ""KAGUYA" selected as SELENE's nickname" Retrieved 2007-10-13 
  4. ^ a b "KAGUYA SELENE / Result of the Separation of the VRAD Satellite Vstar" Press release 2007-10-12 Retrieved 2007-10-13 
  5. ^ Emily Lakdawalla 2007-09-14 "Kaguya Rockets Toward the Moon" Retrieved 2007-09-15 
  6. ^ MHI / JAXA "H-IIAロケット13号機による月周回衛星「かぐや」の打上げ結果について(速報)" PDF in Japanese Retrieved 19 September 2007 
  7. ^ a b c "平成19年度夏期ロケット打ち上げおよび追跡管制計画書 Rocket Launch and Tracking Control Plan, Summer 2007" PDF in Japanese MHI / JAXA 
  8. ^ "Japan launches first lunar probe" BBC News 14 September 2007 Retrieved 2007-09-14 
  9. ^ "Launch Postponement of the KAGUYA SELENE" 2007-07-20 Retrieved 2007-08-15 
  10. ^ "KAGUYA SELENE Result of the Lunar Orbit Injection Maneuver LOI1 - Lunar orbit injection was confirmed -" Press release JAXA 2007-10-05 Retrieved 2007-10-05 
  11. ^ "かぐや/H-IIA13号機 打上げ特設サイト" in Japanese Retrieved 2007-10-01 
  12. ^ "月周回衛星「かぐや(SELENE)」の定常運用終了と後期運用計画について" PDF in Japanese 2008-11-05 Retrieved 2008-11-05 
  13. ^ a b "月周回衛星「かぐや(SELENE)」の 状況について" PDF in Japanese 2009-02-18 Retrieved 2009-02-22 
  14. ^ "Kaguya SELENE" JAXA Retrieved 2007-06-25 
  15. ^ "LISM TC, MI, SP" Kaguya SELENE JAXA Retrieved 2007-06-25 
  16. ^ "KAGUYA SELENE - Mission Instruments - HDTV" Retrieved 2009-03-01 
  17. ^ "Send a New Year's Message to the Moon on Japan's SELENE Mission: Buzz Aldrin, Ray Bradbury and More Have Wished Upon the Moon" Press release The Planetary Society 2007-01-11 Retrieved 2007-07-14 
  18. ^ "セレーネ「月に願いを!」SELENE "Wish Upon the Moon!"" in Japanese JAXA 2007 Retrieved 2007-07-14 
  19. ^ H Araki; et al February 13, 2009 "Lunar Global Shape and Polar Topography Derived from Kaguya-LALT Laser Altimetry" Science 323 5916: 897–900 Bibcode:2009Sci323897A PMID 19213910 doi:101126/science1164146 
  20. ^ N Namiki; et al February 13, 2009 "Farside Gravity Field of the Moon from Four-Way Doppler Measurements of SELENE Kaguya" Science 323 5916: 900–905 Bibcode:2009Sci323900N PMID 19213911 doi:101126/science1168029 
  21. ^ J Haruyama; et al November 7, 2008 "Lack of Exposed Ice Inside Lunar South Pole Shackleton Crater" Science 322 5903: 938–939 Bibcode:2008Sci322938H PMID 18948501 doi:101126/science1164020 
  22. ^ "SELENE: The largest lunar mission since the Apollo program" Retrieved 2008-04-21 
  23. ^ "Hiten" NASA Retrieved 2007-09-14 
  24. ^ "NASA Authorization Act of 2008 - Section 404 - Lunar Outpost" Library of Congress 2008-10-22 

External linksedit

  • in English Official project site, JAXA
  • in English Official launch information site, JAXA
  • SELENE Mission Profile by NASA's Solar System Exploration
  • in English SELENE overview, ISAS/JAXA
  • in English Official YouTube channel, JAXA
  • in English June 10th impact location
  • in English NEC Corporation's Kaguya page, NEC Corporation
  • JAXA Link - Video 12 min before impact - close surface flyover

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