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Press Room

Fly Wishes to the Moon with Japan's SELENE Mission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12/01/2006

CONTACT:
Mat Kaplan
Email: mat.kaplan@planetary.org
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

The Planetary Society, in conjunction with The Planetary Society of Japan and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), invites the world to participate in the "Wish Upon the Moon" campaign to send names and messages to Earth's Moon on Japan's SELENE mission. Adults and children alike can submit names and brief good wishes for inclusion on the spacecraft.

"Unlike the childhood game of wishing upon a star, these messages will physically travel to their destination when SELENE launches for the Moon in summer 2007," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society. "We are honored to join JAXA and our sister organization, The Planetary Society of Japan, in this historic public interest and educational campaign."

People around the world are encouraged to send names alone or in combination with a message. The combined length of one's name and message must fit within 60 characters. After a name has been submitted, an official certificate of participation can be downloaded from The Planetary Society's website. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2007.

"We are very proud of SELENE because it is the most excellent spacecraft to go to the Moon since the age of Apollo. It will pave the way for the world's future lunar missions. We welcome your names and messages to this spacecraft to open a new century for solar system exploration," said Yasunori Matogawa, Director of the Space Education Center of JAXA.

JAXA was founded on October 1, 2003 as Japan's sole space agency by integrating three space-related organizations - the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, National Aerospace Laboratory and National Space Development Agency.

SELENE's primary mission objectives will be to globally investigate the Moon from a scientific viewpoint, thereby creating a more detailed map of the lunar surface and learning more about the origin and evolution of the Moon. The mission also seeks to develop technology for future lunar exploration. The year-long mission is scheduled to launch in summer 2007 and enter lunar orbit about a month later.

SELENE, which stands for SELenological and ENgineering Explorer, consists of three separate spacecraft -- a main spacecraft that will begin circling the Moon in an elliptical orbit and two small relay satellites that will go into a polar orbit. The main spacecraft will assume a polar orbit for the scientific lunar investigation. The scientific instruments on board the main orbiter will measure the Moon's magnetic field and map its gravity field. Instruments will also measure elemental and mineral distribution, surface structure, and the lunar environment.

In the past, lunar missions consisting of single spacecraft have been unable to map the gravity field of the far side of the Moon. Gravity experiments require a real-time radio link to Earth, so when a lunar orbiting spacecraft disappears behind the Moon, it is impossible to acquire the necessary data. SELENE's Relay satellite will permit the spacecraft to conduct gravity experiments on the far side of the Moon by relaying the radio transmissions from that region to Earth in real time.

"With the launch of SELENE, we will usher in the International Lunar Decade in 2007," noted Friedman.

Japan, China, India, the United States, and Russia are all developing lunar mission plans to launch in the next few years - with orbiter, landers, rovers and sample returns expected to precede a human return to the Moon.

As part of their Messages from Earth campaign, The Planetary Society is also collecting names to fly to Mars aboard a specialized silica-glass DVD on Phoenix, NASA's newest Scout mission, led by Principal Investigator Peter Smith at the University of Arizona. The Phoenix mission is being managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The disk, which is attached to the deck of the Phoenix lander, will include "Visions of Mars," a collection of 19th and 20th century stories, essays, and art inspired by the Red Planet. People around the world can add their own names (or those of family and friends). The deadline to submit names for this campaign is February 1, 2007.

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About the Planetary Society

The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a long time member of the Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.

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