|Mission type||Lunar orbiter|
|Manufacturer||NEC Toshiba Space Systems|
|Launch mass||2,914 kilograms (6,424 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||14 September 2007, 01:31:01UTC|
|Rocket||H-IIA 2022 F13|
|Launch site||Tanegashima Yoshinobu 1|
|End of mission|
|Decay date||10 June 2009, 18:25UTC|
|Periselene||281 kilometres (175 mi)|
|Aposelene||231,910 kilometres (144,100 mi)|
|Epoch||29 September 2007|
|Orbital insertion||3 October 2007|
SELENE (; Selenological and Engineering Explorer), better known in Japan by its nickname Kaguya (), was the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft following the Hiten probe. Produced by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) and the National Space Development Agency (NASDA), the spacecraft was launched on September 14, 2007. After successfully orbiting the Moon for a year and eight months, the main orbiter was instructed to impact on the lunar surface near the crater Gill on June 10, 2009.
The orbiter's nickname, Kaguya, was selected by the general public. It comes from the name of a lunar princess in the ancient Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. After their successful release, its sub-satellites, Rstar and Vstar, were named Okina and Ouna, also derived from characters in the tale.
The main scientific objectives of the mission were to:
SELENE launched on 14 September 2007 at 01:31:01 UTC on an H-IIA (Model H2A2022) carrier rocket from Tanegashima Space Center into a 281.55-kilometre (174.95 mi) (perigee) / 232,960-kilometre (144,750 mi) (apogee) geocentric parking orbit. The total launch mass was 3,020 kilograms (6,660 lb).
The SELENE mission was originally scheduled to launch in 2003, but rocket failures on another mission and technical difficulties delayed the launch until 2007. Launch was planned for August 16, 2007, but was postponed when some electronic components were found to be installed incorrectly.
On October 3, it entered an initial 101-to-11,741-kilometre (63 to 7,296 mi) polar lunar orbit. On October 9, the relay satellite was released into a 100-to-2,400-kilometre (62 to 1,491 mi) orbit, while on October 12 the VLBI satellite was released into a 100-to-800-kilometre (62 to 497 mi) one. Finally, by October 19, the orbiter was in a circular 100-kilometre (62 mi) orbit. The nominal mission duration was one year plus possible extensions.
On October 31, 2007, Kaguya deployed its Lunar Magnetometer, Lunar Radar Sounder, Earth-looking Upper Atmosphere and Plasma Imager. On December 21, 2007, Kaguya began regular operations after all fifteen observation experiments had been satisfactorily verified.
Kaguya completed the planned operation by the end of October 2008 and began extended operations planned to continue through March 2009. It would then be sent into a circular 50-kilometre (31 mi) orbit, and finally to an elliptical 20-to-100-kilometre (12 to 62 mi) one, with a controlled impact occurring by August 2009. Because of a degraded reaction wheel, the plan was changed so that on February 1, 2009, the orbit was lowered to 50 kilometres (31 mi) ± 20 kilometres (12 mi), and impact occurred at 18:25 UTC on June 10, 2009.
The mission featured three separate spacecraft:
Okina (formerly Rstar) and Ouna (formerly Vstar) were octagonal prisms to support radio science. Okina relayed radio communications between the orbiter and the Earth when the orbiter was behind the Moon. This allowed, for the first time, the direct Doppler shift measurements needed to precisely map the gravitational field of the lunar farside; previously, the farside gravity field could only be inferred by nearside measurements. The relay satellite impacted the lunar farside near the Mineur D crater at 19:46 JST (10:46 UTC) on February 12, 2009.
Ouna used Very Long Baseline Interferometry as a second way to map the Moon's gravity field. It was especially useful at the lunar limb, where the gravitational acceleration is perpendicular to the line of sight to earth, making Doppler measurements unsuitable.
SELENE carried 13 scientific instruments "to obtain scientific data of the lunar origin and evolution and to develop the technology for the future lunar exploration":
JAXA collected names and messages that were carried on SELENE through their "Wish Upon the Moon" campaign. 412,627 names and messages were printed on a sheet measuring 280 mm x 160 mm (11 x 6.3 in) at 70 µm (0.0003 in) per character. The sheet was installed under the photovoltaic modules and cooling panels beneath the multi-layered insulation.
Major results include:
SELENE was part of a renewed global interest in lunar exploration; it was "the largest lunar mission since the Apollo program". It followed Japan's first lunar probe, Hagoromo, launched in 1990.China launched its Chang'e 1 lunar explorer on October 24, 2007, followed by India's 22 October 2008 launch of Chandrayaan-1 and the United States Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in June 2009. The United States, European countries (ESA), Russia, Japan, India and China are planning future manned lunar exploration missions or lunar outpost construction on the Moon between 2018 and 2025.