This is the second installment on the JAXA Kaguya Lunar Orbiter mission and I offer a detailed summary of its important mission accomplishments.
A critical fact carried over from the NASA Apollo missions of 1967 to 1971 was that the ideal Lunar Orbit Altitude for a car-sized probe is 62 miles. While orbiting the moon for most of a year at exactly that altitude, Kaguya was equipped with a high-resolution camera capable of sub-one-square-meter surface resolution. The moon was digitally mapped in extraordinary visual detail for lunar geologists and Solar System geophysicists. Subsequent parallel passes allow for stereo topographic viewing and measurement with astonishing accuracy. All the NASA Apollo landing sites as well as the Soviet, ESA and JAXA probe landings were established including long-lost failed missions and reflectors long since dusted over.
This photo depicts Kaguya at a 60-degree oblique approach to Copernicus, the youngest major crater on the lunar surface. Caused by a direct comet impact 175 million years ago, Copernicus is 58 miles in diameter at the ejecta terrace summit and 11 miles deep. Maximum ejecta land rise due to impact is about 8,000 feet with material blasting outward radially to a distance of over 900 miles. Incredible. The impact probably caused a family of half-submerged apatosauri munching on lake weeds to stop and look up and wonder what was going on…… and then go on munching again. Something similar would take place on Earth some 110 million years later, an asteroid impact which did not let them continue munching.
Kaguya was deliberately crashed into the surface at an oblique angle to recreate a small impact and uncover the possibility of below-surface water or a piece of the moon’s geological, primordial crust.
Martin Werner Zander, Smith’s School of English Corporate Partner
月謝制のスミス英会話 甲東園校 仁川 門戸厄神 逆瀬川