September 14, 2007

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A New Era of Lunar Exploration!

screen captures from JAXA

I have just watched online the live launch of Selene, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) ambitious lunar probe. I captured the images above to show this start of what we can hope will be a new golden age of lunar exploration. Selene has 15 sophisticated instruments that will collect the most precise topographic, geologic, and mineralogical information thus far, some with 10 m resolution. Stereo imaging and a laser altimeter will permit highly detailed topographic mapping of the entire world - the altimeter has 5 m accuracy. A radar sounder will probe the top 20-30 km of crustal structure, and X-ray and gamma-ray spectrometers will determine compositions of surface materials. One unusual instrument is a TV to study the surface with oblique images and also to capture Earth rise - purely a publicity shot! I hope that Selene is fabuously successful and that much exciting new data descends on us. As Selene travels through space, China is also readying its Chang’e-1 lunar orbiter for launch this month, with India and the USA following next year. If you missed the lunar exploration of the 1960s this will be another historic chance to live in a glorious age of discovery. Wahoo!

Chuck Wood

Yesterday's LPOD: Be Gone, Obnoxious Framelet Lines!

Tomorrow's LPOD: Who You Gonna Believe?


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