06/11/2009, 00.00
JAPAN
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Japan’s lunar mission a success: the probe touches down today

The controlled crash landing concluded the 19 month flight of the “Kaguya” probe. Important data was gathered to help create a more detailed map of the moon’s surface and to analyse present minerals.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japan is celebrating the “complete success” of its first lunar probe which touched down to on the moon’s surface in a controlled landing today after a 19 month voyage.  Shinichi Sobue, spokesman for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA said the Kaguya probe (named after a legendary Japanese princess) photographed a highly detailed map of the lunar service as it orbited the satellite, measuring its gravity and studying the distribution of its mineral deposits.  This data it is hoped will help the scientific better understand the moon’s evolution.

Sobue said the mission cost over 55 billion Yen (over 398 million Euro) and the project is the most ambitious since the Usa Apollo mission. The probe launched in September 2007, reached the satellite after 20 days and orbited the moon for over 2 years gathering data.  In November Jaxa will publish the results on the internet.

During the Kaguya mission, Jaxa launched two other probes: one crashed landed on the moon surface in February the other is still orbiting the satellite to measure its gravity.

Tokyo is a leader in artificial satellite technology and in January launched the first ever satellite to monitor carbon gas emissions, it help studies in climate change and global warming.

Tokyo has not ruled out a future mission to Mars, abandoned in 2003 after the probe moved off course.

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