back to article Japanese lunar orbiter to go out with a bang

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency will be keeping its eyes peeled tomorrow for some brief fireworks when its Kaguya lunar orbiter slams into the Moon's surface at 6,000 km/h. Since launching in September 2007, Kaguya (formerly called Selene), has probed the Moon's gravitational field, surface and composition, in the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Missed opportunity

    Don't know why they're not aiming at a certain flag in the Sea of Tranquility (0° 40' 26.69" N 23° 28' 22.69" E according to good ol' Wikipedia).

    I'd honestly be p1ssing myself for about a month if they did that and hit it.

  2. Liam Johnson

    Too early

    What are they doing? They should delay the impact 7-8 hours so we have a chance of seeing it. Although it is going to be cloudy anyway, just like for every other astronomical even for the last 100 years.

  3. david Herbert

    Cool, but...

    If they are saying that they can look at the freshly tilled soil in these scrapes, then why can' t they show us pictures of the moor landers?

    Conspiracy, conspiracy...

  4. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down


    So, not content with littering our own skies, our space agencies are chucking rubbish at the moon? :(

    I'm not clear what research benefit this gives over watching a natural meteor crash into the moon.

  5. Martin Lyne


    Imagine aliens watching us sliently throuhg a high resolution telescope. Maybe on Mars.

    They see ccraft after craft ploughing into the moon like we've all of a sudden forgotten how to write navigational software..

    Hope the craft are all adequately anti-bacterialised first. BE bad to spread our germs then find them in 10 years and think they're extraterrestrial.

  6. Lionel Baden

    how is it a orbiter

    i thought the idea of orbiting something had a little to do with going around an object not trying to go through it

  7. Steven

    Don't these people watch movies?

    As in Guy Pierce's Time Machine remake?

    If we end up having to hang in baskets on the side of cliffs because of this crash, I'm going to be very upset!

    Also, the whole aiming for the flag/footprints stuff should be the goal of every space agency, because nothing's funnier than an angry American

  8. Peter

    @AC RE: Missed opportunity

    Flag's already fallen over; it was toppled by the engine exhaust by the lander ascending from the moon.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    "Although it is going to be cloudy anyway, just like for every other astronomical even for the last 100 years."

    - Don't be silly, there aren't any clouds on the moon.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Skipping across the surface

    "like a stone across a pond".

    Or like a whale, trying to get away from a Japanese "research" ship.

  11. Andy Worth

    I hope they don't hit a clanger!

    Or the soup dragon....

  12. Anonymous Coward


    I for one don't welcome our luner bully boy overlords, maybe peta needs an outreach program petm to protect the feelings of our delicate satellite, it might start to thing we don't like it having shot it three times recently with satellites

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I know it's fallen over, but it's still worth a hit. Not to mention the LM descent stage, the plaque, their backpacks...

  14. Anonymous Coward


    I wonder if they will use a high resolution telescope to film it. And upload to YouTube. Would be fun to see.

  15. james


    is it just me or do the worlds various space agencies seem to be run by McG of hollywood fame?

    'theres a car... lets blow it up'

    'theres a boat... lets blow that up'

    'hey guys... i have this great idea for some shit we can blow up next...'

    shame we cant shoot christian bale at the moon

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Ian Ferguson @ Lionel Baden

    'I'm not clear what research benefit this gives over watching a natural meteor crash into the moon.'

    Believe it or not, telescopes aren't regularly pointed at the Moon. With a space craft impact you can know the exact time of the impact and point your instruments at it, you know the trajectory and mass of the impactor, so you can work out things like the amount of energy delivered to the lunar surface; and if you then see the crater, you know a lot about the make-up of the lunar surface which allows you to estimate the size of naturally occurring craters. If you're lucky you can also measure the plume and see if it contains any unexpected substances.

    Sadly the Apollo era seismic network on the Moon was switched off long ago to save money. That used to provide really useful data about the rate of impacts, the relative size of impactors and the internal structure of the Moon.

    'i thought the idea of orbiting something had a little to do with going around an object not trying to go through it'

    The probe is at the end of its life and will have probably exhausted any remaining fuel. Lunar gravity is remarkably 'lumpy' and its very hard to keep a ship in a stable low orbit for any length of time. Lunar gravity isn't smooth because of the huge mass concentrations around the large impact basins on the near side. Their precise cause is unclear, in part it is down to the very dense basalt that fills them (making them dark when seen from Earth); but it is also likely that the interface between the light lunar Crust and denser Mantle is closer to the surface below the mascons.


  17. Vulch
    Paris Hilton


    The benefit is predictability. With an end of life spacecraft you can predict exactly where and when it's going to hit and have the appropriate instruments pointed at the right spot at the right time. To spot a natural meteor hitting you need to be looking at all of the moon, all of the time, which involves either a lot of identical instruments if you want a close up view or pitiful resolution with one.

    It's the difference between reading Ms Hiltons appointments diary and waiting for her to appear at a random location somewhere in North America.

  18. Emo


    If it lands on my acre I'm gonna put in a claim for rent till it's moved :P

  19. Anonymous Coward

    And... the orbiter, cut free from earthly control, plummets towards the surface at an ever increasing rate, no-one can comprehend the massive chain reaction that will be initiated by the massive temperatures acting on the rare elements on the Moon's surface, the fissionable materials in the vessel's power source, and a single graphite pencil left onboard by a careless technician.

    And as the Moon tears asunder to the terrified wonder of a transfixed humanity, it will not be climatic chaos or geologic upheaval that will most greatly threaten ultimate destruction. A single quantum of a radiation never before experienced by the universe in the life and death of a billion stars will traverse the inky blackness in an instant and pass through a lifeform at the instant of procreation. It will scythe through the potent genetic material - slicing, fusing, obliterating - leaving a twisted mutation and a primal urge for survival in its wake. A primal urge that will seek out and destroy all life on earth if no one can find a way to stop it.

    The Day of the King Charles Spaniel. Coming to cinemas this August. You can sit up and beg, but in the end you will roll over and play dead... forever!

  20. Kevin Campbell
    Thumb Up

    @AC 13:48 (Re: And...)

    brilliant! Channeling Douglas Adams, are we?

    Oh, and you owe me for a new monitor/keyboard.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I remember correctly

    there are still a bunch of seismographs up there, so there should be some decent data to come from them too.

    @ Ian Ferguson

    You reckon the locals are going to be annoyed by the litter or something? See all those craters on the Moon's surface? That's where it's spent the last few billion years collecting assorted cosmic garbage. A little more isn't going to hurt anybody.

  22. Jeff

    On Shooting the Moon

    Very cool that we are finally exploring the moon. How very 1960's :) Shouldn't we be exploring Uranus by now?

  23. Goat Jam
    Black Helicopters

    @David Herbert

    I concur

    I want to see pictures of the apollo site(s). HD pictures. HD pictures taken by a country that is not America.

    It's not like we don't know exactly where they "landed" after all.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Tin Helmets Anyone?

    I'm just a bit worried that in the 40-odd years since we last heard from them the Clangers might have developed their own versions of WMD. And if we start dumping our garbage in their back yard they might figure it's time for payback.

    Paris because if you dared to spoil her landscape you might well be suffering payback from some microbes not long after.

  25. Led boot

    What is wrong with this picture

    Clicking on the link for the the earth rise/set gives you a video with the following title:

    "Earth-rise" Images taken by the HD camera of the KAGUYA (no audio)

    In space no-one can hear you scream...because there's no audio....

  26. David Cameron

    When are we going ?

    Haven't we sent enough unmanned thingies to the Moon? Shouldn't we be thinking of sending a man, or men? The thing we need to be careful about is the radiation belt between here and the Moon, through which only Americans can pass and survive.

    For all the money spent so far, shouldn't we be up Uranus, NASA?

    They closed SETI after it found extraterrestrial life in Downing Street in the form of the Loonie Broonie, which has been allowed to breed here on our planet, but which refuses to conform to what we humans consider to be simple etiquette, resisting even the usually adequate 'FUCK OFF YOU MONSTER'. Where will it all end is what I want to know !

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