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Emily LakdawallaSeptember 17, 2007

Kaguya self-portraits

Kaguya continues to operate nominally. On Saturday, JAXA released two way-cool images taken by the spacecraft to document the successful deployment of two critical components, its high-gain antenna (for communications with Earth) and its solar paddle.

Kaguya self-portrait: High-gain antenna

JAXA

Kaguya self-portrait: High-gain antenna
About eight hours after launch, Kaguya deployed its high-gain antenna and solar paddle. A few hours later, the spacecraft took a photo to document the position of the antenna using its onboard camera.
I'm at a loss to explain why I think spacecraft self-portraits are so cool. I guess they're cool because they document the fact that something we humans built really is out there in space or on another planet. That's a fact that we all know, of course; if the spacecraft is returning data at all, it must be out there. But something about seeing a picture of the spacecraft out there is much more emotionally powerful.

Other Kaguya news: following these successful deployments, on September 14, the spacecraft has also successfully performed the first of three course-correcting maneuvers that will set the spacecraft up to inject into lunar orbit on October 3. The next two maneuvers will take place on September 19 and September 30.

Finally, Cherilynn sent me a huge pile of photos to post in her launch blog; go check them out!

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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