National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

“KAGUYA’s Moon” Exploring the Lunar Surface


SELenological and ENgineering Explorer “KAGUYA (SELENE)” is a lunar orbiter satellite launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on September 14, 2007. This mission was conducted with the primary goals of acquiring scientific data to understand the origin and evolution of the Moon; and providing proof of concept for the technologies to achieve lunar orbit and orbital position control. This video uses data from the Laser Altimeter (LALT) and the Terrain Camera (TC) loaded onboard “KAGUYA” to 3-dimensionally reproduce the topography of Tycho Crater and Mare Moscoviense.

Laser Altimeter (LALT)

The Laser Altimeter is an instrument which determines the distance between the satellite and the lunar surface by measuring the round-trip time of laser light projected from the main orbiter. Because the main orbiter circles the Moon in a polar orbit, it could make the world’s first high accuracy topographical map of the entire lunar surface, including the polar regions (above 75 degrees latitude) which could not be investigated by previous satellites. Data processing and analysis were conducted by members of the RISE Project Office.

Terrain Camera (TC)

The Terrain Camera films diagonally in the forward and reverse directions. Composed of a pair of 1-dimensional visible wavelength band cameras, it is an instrument for stereoscopic observation of the lunar surface. With a maximum resolution of 10 meters and extremely high sensitivity, it conducted detailed observations of the lunar surface topography. Data processing and analysis were conducted by members of the LISM/TC Instrument Team.

Video Data

ObjectLuna (the Moon)
Observational SatelliteSELenological and ENgineering Explorer “KAGUYA (SELENE)”
InstrumentLaser Altimeter (LALT), Terrain Camera (TC)
CreditVisualization, Rendering: Hirotaka Nakayama, LALT Data Provision, Processing: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), NAOJ RISE Project office, TC Data Provision: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) LISM/TC, Instrument Team, Four-Dimensional Digital Universe Project, NAOJ

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