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Sept 14: When Selene, largest lunar mission after Apollo, was launched…

September 14 was the date of launch of Selene project in Japan which was the largest and most sophisticated lunar mission after the Apollo program

Selene, the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft, was launched on September 14, 2007. It successfully orbited the Moon for a year and eight months. 

The Selene project was started in 1998, and it was better known by its Japanese nickname Kaguya, which was chosen by the general public after Princess Kaguya in the fairytale. 

The spacecraft orbited the Moon for a year and eight months, completing its planned operations by the end of October 2008 and extended operations through March 2009. Later, it was planned to be sent into a circular 50 kilometre orbit, but due to a degraded reaction wheel the plans were changed, and the main orbiter was instructed to impact on the lunar surface near the crater Gill.

The main objective of the mission was to do a global survey of the Moon for a better understanding of its origin and evolution, elemental/chemical composition, etc; to develop technologies for lunar orbit insertion and spacecraft attitude, and orbit control. Kaguya, being a success, provided satisfactory results. It revealed the global distribution of olivine, a dense silicate mineral, on the lunar surface and its origin which gave a new insight to the team.

SELENE was the largest and most sophisticated lunar mission after the Apollo program, and it carried 13 scientific instruments to obtain scientific data of the lunar origin and evolution, and to develop the technology for the future plans of lunar exploration and utilization.

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