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Moons of our Solar System
Moons of our Solar System

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2.5 The SELENE mission

In 2007, the Japanese space agency, JAXA, launched their SELENE spacecraft, which came to be known by its nickname of ‘Kaguya’, after the lunar princess in an ancient Japanese folk story, ‘The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter’.

Kaguya orbited the Moon for 20 months, sending back stunning images of the lunar surface taken by its high-resolution cameras. These included the first ever optical images of the interior of Shackleton, a permanently shadowed crater near the lunar south pole, which was a prime candidate location for lunar water-ice to be found.

Described image
Figure 11 An artist’s impression of the SELENE spacecraft launched in 2007 and successfully completed an extended mission, crashing into the lunar surface in June 2009.