Friday, February 13, 2009

JJNN: Kaguya

Welcome again to JJNN for February 13th, 2009. Today we will be talking about yet another Japanese satellite.

Way back on October 27th of last year I talked about a Japanese satellite called kaguya. The last news report was about how kaguya failed to find water on the moon. This news report (found here) is about how kaguya was able to accurately map the surface of the moon.

Kaguya has been flying around the moon for a while now measuring altitude (I sort of want to say distance above sea level, but there is no sea on the moon) of the moon surface. This is the first time in history that a moon topographical map has been made with such great detail. The last moon map was made with about 270,000 data points, but the map that was made with kaguya has 6,770,000 data points. That tells a whole lot about the surface of the moon. You can see the map that was created by kaguya below.

The view below also shows the highest point (circled in black) and the lowest point (circled in white).

So, what can we learn from this map? Well, the distance around the moon at the equator is 1783.64 Km (1108.30 miles) and the distance around the moon from pole to pole is 1735.66 Km (1078.49 miles). These numbers are very close to each other, which means the moon is a near perfect sphere. It also turns out that the difference in height between the highest point on the moon and lowest point on the moon is a mere 19.81 Km (12.31 miles).

Now that kaguya has finished it's job of mapping the moon it really doesn't have anything left to do. It will fall out of orbit and crash on to the moon's surface later this year. I am sort of say to think that it is just going to end up as trash on the surface of the moon, but I guess it gave us a lot for the trade off of a little trash.

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