For the second SELENE series lunar spacecraft, see SELENE-2. For other uses, see Selene (disambiguation).
"Vstar" redirects here. For other uses, see V Star.
Mission type Lunar orbiter
Operator JAXA
COSPAR ID 2007-039A
SATCAT № 32054
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer NEC Toshiba Space Systems
Launch mass 2,914 kilograms (6,424 lb)
Power 3,486 watts
Start of mission
Launch date 14 September 2007, 01:31:01 (2007-09-14UTC01:31:01Z) UTC
Rocket H-IIA 2022 F13
Launch site Tanegashima Yoshinobu 1
Contractor Mitsubishi
End of mission
Decay date 10 June 2009, 18:25 (2009-06-10UTC18:26Z) UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference system Selenocentric
Periselene 100 kilometres (62 mi)
Aposelene 100 kilometres (62 mi)
Inclination 90 degrees
Period 2 hours
Lunar orbiter
Orbital insertion 3 October 2007
  • X-ray Spectrometer (XRS)
  • Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GRS)
  • Multi-band Imager (MI)
  • Spectral Profiler (SP)
  • Terrain Camera (TC)
  • Lunar Radar Sounder (LRS)
  • Laser Altimeter (LALT)
  • Lunar Magnetometer (LMAG)
  • Charged Particle Spectrometer (CPS)
  • Plasma energy Angle and Composition Experiment (PACE)
  • Radio Science (RS)
  • Upper-atmosphere and Plasma Imager (UPI)
  • Relay Satellite aboard Okina (RSAT)
  • VLBI Radio source aboard Okina and Ouna (VRAD)
  • High Definition Television cameras (HDTV)

SELENE (/ˈsɛln/; Selenological and Engineering Explorer), better known in Japan by its nickname Kaguya (かぐや), was the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft following the Hiten probe.[1] 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.[2]


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.[3] After their successful release, its sub-satellites, Rstar and Vstar, were named Okina and Ouna, also derived from characters in the tale.[4]

Mission objectives

The main scientific objectives of the mission were to:


Launch of H-IIA F13 carrying SELENE (Photo by Narita Masahiro)

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.[5][6] The total launch mass was 3,020 kilograms (6,660 lb).[7]

The SELENE mission was originally scheduled to launch in 2003, but rocket failures on another mission and technical difficulties delayed the launch until 2007.[8] Launch was planned for August 16, 2007, but was postponed when some electronic components were found to be installed incorrectly.[9]

Lunar operations

On October 3, it entered an initial 101-to-11,741-kilometre (63 to 7,296 mi) polar lunar orbit.[10] 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.[4] Finally, by October 19, the orbiter was in a circular 100-kilometre (62 mi) orbit.[11] 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.[12] 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),[13] and impact occurred at 18:25 UTC on June 10, 2009.[2]


The mission featured three separate spacecraft:

Main orbiter[7]

Okina (small relay satellite)

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.[13]

Ouna (VLBI satellite)

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":[14]

Two 2.2 megapixel CCD HDTV cameras, one wide-angle and one telephoto, were also on board, primarily for public relations purposes.[16]

JAXA collected names and messages that were carried on SELENE through their "Wish Upon the Moon" campaign.[17] 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.[18]


Major results include:

Other lunar probes

Map of the lunar south pole showing the SELENE craft at the left.

SELENE was part of a renewed global interest in lunar exploration; it was "the largest lunar mission since the Apollo program".[22] It followed Japan's first lunar probe, Hagoromo, launched in 1990.[1][23] 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.[24]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Kaguya – Another Chapter for the Lunar Saga". Red Orbit. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
  2. 1 2 "KAGUYA Lunar Impact". JAXA. Retrieved 2009-06-24.
  3. ""KAGUYA" selected as SELENE's nickname". Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  4. 1 2 "KAGUYA (SELENE) / Result of the Separation of the VRAD Satellite (Vstar)" (Press release). 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  5. Emily Lakdawalla (2007-09-14). "Kaguya Rockets Toward the Moon". Retrieved 2007-09-15.
  6. MHI / JAXA. "H-IIAロケット13号機による月周回衛星「かぐや」の打上げ結果について(速報)" (PDF) (in Japanese). Retrieved 19 September 2007.
  7. 1 2 3 "平成19年度夏期ロケット打ち上げおよび追跡管制計画書 (Rocket Launch and Tracking Control Plan, Summer 2007)" (PDF) (in Japanese). MHI / JAXA.
  8. "Japan launches first lunar probe". BBC News. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
  9. "Launch Postponement of the KAGUYA (SELENE)". 2007-07-20. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
  10. "KAGUYA (SELENE) Result of the Lunar Orbit Injection Maneuver (LOI1) - Lunar orbit injection was confirmed -" (Press release). JAXA. 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  11. "かぐや/H-IIA13号機 打上げ特設サイト" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  12. "月周回衛星「かぐや(SELENE)」の定常運用終了と後期運用計画について" (PDF) (in Japanese). 2008-11-05. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  13. 1 2 "月周回衛星「かぐや(SELENE)」の 状況について" (PDF) (in Japanese). 2009-02-18. Retrieved 2009-02-22.
  14. "Kaguya (SELENE)". JAXA. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  15. "LISM [TC, MI, SP]". Kaguya (SELENE). JAXA. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  16. "KAGUYA (SELENE) - Mission Instruments - HDTV". Retrieved 2009-03-01.
  17. "Send a New Year's Message to the Moon on Japan's SELENE Mission: Buzz Aldrin, Ray Bradbury and More Have Wished Upon the Moon" (Press release). The Planetary Society. 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  18. "セレーネ「月に願いを!」(SELENE "Wish Upon the Moon!")" (in Japanese). JAXA. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  19. H. Araki; et al. (February 13, 2009). "Lunar Global Shape and Polar Topography Derived from Kaguya-LALT Laser Altimetry". Science. 323 (5916): 897–900. Bibcode:2009Sci...323..897A. doi:10.1126/science.1164146. PMID 19213910.
  20. N. Namiki; et al. (February 13, 2009). "Farside Gravity Field of the Moon from Four-Way Doppler Measurements of SELENE (Kaguya)". Science. 323 (5916): 900–905. Bibcode:2009Sci...323..900N. doi:10.1126/science.1168029. PMID 19213911.
  21. J. Haruyama; et al. (November 7, 2008). "Lack of Exposed Ice Inside Lunar South Pole Shackleton Crater". Science. 322 (5903): 938–939. Bibcode:2008Sci...322..938H. doi:10.1126/science.1164020. PMID 18948501.
  22. "SELENE: The largest lunar mission since the Apollo program". Retrieved 2008-04-21.
  23. "Hiten". NASA. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
  24. "NASA Authorization Act of 2008 - Section 404 - Lunar Outpost". Library of Congress. 2008-10-22.
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