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Emily LakdawallaOctober 12, 2007

Kaguya: both mini-satellites deployed and renamed

JAXA announced today the successful deployment of the second of Kaguya's two mini-satellites. And, in what seems to be a traditional act of the Japanese space program following the "launch" of a spacecraft, they have given "nicknames" of mythological origin to the two spacecraft: Okina and Ouna. Okina and Ouna, meaning "honorable elderly man" and "honorable elderly woman," refer to the old couple who adopted and raised the moon princess Kaguya in the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. Sometimes these mythological names come to supplant the original name -- as happened to Hayabusa (formerly known as MUSES-C) -- but sometimes the former, technical names remain in common use. Given the choice, I prefer the mythological names, so I'll probably stick with those.

As before, they released a couple of onboard camera photos of the successful deployment, so I assembled the four images into an animation.

Kaguya deploys its mini-satellites


Kaguya deploys its mini-satellites
Views from a small onboard camera show the successful deployment of the lunar orbiter Kaguya's two mini-satellites. Each mini-satellite is an octagonal prism one meter in diameter with solar cells covering its 0.65-meter-long sides; the satellites will be used in a radio interferometry experiment to map the Moon's gravity. The first satellite, Okina (also known as the Relay satellite or Rstar), was released on October 9, 2007 into an elliptical orbit 100 by 2,400 kilomters in size (first two frames). The second satellite, Ouna (also known as the VRAD satellite or Vstar), was released on October 12, 2007 into an elliptical orbit 100 by 800 kilometers in size (last two frames).
The last step for Kaguya is to enter lunar orbit, which will happen on October 19 (not October 21 as I have said in the past), according to a helpful person named "nao" from the JSpace website. "nao" also told me that the first HDTV images of the Moon will be returned no earlier than the 19th, but not necessarily on the 19th. Stay tuned!

Also, something else to keep your eyes out for: Chang'E 1 is supposed to be launching some time this month, probably toward the end of the month. When I hear any news about this mission I'll post it.

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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