JAXA confirmed this evening that Kaguya successfully entered orbit around the Moon, a highly elliptical orbit with an apogee of 11,741 kilometers above the surface and a perigee of only 101 kilometers; the spacecraft orbits once every 16 hours and 42 minutes. JAXA stated:
We are now pleased to be able to report to you that we have safely delivered messages and signs that were collected from 412,627 people around the world through the Wish upon the Moon Campaign and engraved on the sheets to be aboard the KAGUYA to the Moon. We would like to express our profound appreciation to all perticipants and hope your continued support to the KAGUYA mission.
Kaguya is just the first of four missions that should be operational at the Moon by the end of next year. Welcome to the International Lunar Decade!
What's next for Kaguya? It has to circularize its orbit around the Moon. On the way down, it will drop two mini-satellites into their own elliptical orbits. Here's the upcoming timeline:
Relay Satellite Release: October 9, 00:46:01
VRAD Satellite Release: October 14, 05:37:01
Science observations begin: October 21, 10:27:01
Congratulations to JAXA and the nation of Japan for reaching the Moon!
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