Japan’s Kaguya: Orbiting and Releasing Probes

Always interesting to see parts of a probe set against the celestial body it is observing. Unlike images that only include the target, these remind you of the presence of a probe or observer. It illustrates a clear difference between seeing these bodies from a great distance (say from a telescope like Hubble) versus knowing that these views were taken very far away from us here on Earth and in the proximity of a very alien world. Selene Animation

The mission Kaguya is Japan’s contribution to the International Lunar Decade which has only just begun and might hopefully end with some form of manned mission by or around 2017.

The mission has thus far released one of it’s two smaller probes (Rstar) which will independently orbit the moon and the second smaller probe (Vrad) will be set in orbit sometime today. The mission’s main objective is to help solve some of the mysteries of the moon’s origin as well as acquire a more complete understanding as to the moon’s usefulness to the human race and it’s potential role in future space exploration.