Japanese satellite successfully reaches lunar orbit

Japan has placed a satellite in orbit around the moon for the first time, officials said Friday, in a major space breakthrough for the Asian nation.

The $279 million Selenological and Engineering Explorer — or SELENE — is the largest lunar mission since the U.S. Apollo program in terms of overall scope and ambition.

The mission involves placing the main satellite in orbit at an altitude of about 60 miles and deploying two smaller satellites in polar orbits, according to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA.

Researchers will use data gathered by the probes to study the moon’s origin and evolution. The main orbiter will stay in position for about a year.

Source:  Los Angeles Times

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