Japan’s now-finished lunar mission found no water ice
High resolution imaging sensors on the Japanese Selene/Kaguya lunar orbiter have failed to detect any signs of water ice in permanently shaded craters around the South Pole of the Moon.
Selene’s sensors were, however, able to able pierce the darkness to reveal details detailed deep in Shackelton crater that has been a top candidate for south polar ice as a resource for later human exploitation.
Although the Japanese spacecraft found no ice it did find a crater much deeper than other lunar craters of a similar diameter and internal temperatures that could support ice delivered by comets over billions of years.
Two unmanned NASA spacecraft have just arrived at the moon to look again for water ice, that would be a critical resource aiding future human lunar exploration.
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PSI MISSION UPDATE
June 26, 2009
Robert C. Reedy, a senior scientist at the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute, is mapping the moon’s surface elements using data gathered by an advanced gamma-ray spectrometer (GRS) that rode aboard the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft.
Popular Mechanics compares NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter with Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft, which was intentionally crashed into the moon last week:
The Kaguya orbiter, launched by the Japanese space agency (JAXA) in late 2007, had strictly scientific objectives. The agency set out to answer some of the moon’s remaining unsolved mysteries, not to mention be the first to map the moon using the latest in digital imaging technology. “LRO is not a science mission,” Jim Garvin, chief scientist at the Goddard Space Center and one of LRO’s founding fathers, told Popular Mechanics. “It has high science value, but it was conceived to provide engineering parameters for our eventual manned return to the moon.”
The video above shows Japan’s Kaguya probe making a low-altitude pass above the moon in April.
Kaguya’s impact on the moon was captured by the Anglo Australian Telescope on Wednesday. The images appear to be copyrighted, so here’s a link.
The Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya ended a successful mapping mission with a controlled crash into the lunar surface at 2:25 p.m. EDT. The 3-ton spacecraft had been orbiting the moon since 2007. Scientists will study images of the impact to learn more about the surface.
We will post images as they become available from the Japanese space agency JAXA.
JAXA MISSION UPDATE
The KAGUYA, who carried out its regular operations for about 10 months and post-operational observations for about 8 and half months, is scheduled to be maneuvered to be dropped near GILL Crater (around 80 degrees east longitude and 63 degrees south latitude) on the moon’s front-side surface at 3:30 a.m. on June 11 (Japan Standard Time.)
As the KAGUYA’s expected landing position is in the shade on the Moon, we many be able to witness some flash from its collision; therefore, we are now informing all related organizations both in Japan and overseas of its falling time and location.
Please note that the KAGUYA’s falling time and location are subject to change as we further analyze its orbit and conditions.