Kaguya is the Japanese spacecraft that has been orbiting around the Moon for more than a year and a half. For the average public like us, the couple of HD cameras on the spacecraft gave us beautiful video of the Moon. But now it's going to be crashed into the Moon in a couple of days. To remember Kaguya, here's a video clip of the Moon taken by Kaguya from only 11 kilometers, or 7 miles, above the surface at double the actual speed:
Lunar eclipses are a regularly occurrence, but the other way around, the Earth eclipsing the Sun as seen from the Moon, is much more rarer to witness. Like, the only time it has been witnessed by humans so far, at least by proxy, thanks to the Japanese spacecraft to the Moon, Kaguya, which gave us this video of the Sun emerging from behind the Earth after an eclipse:
Joining the rank of previous lunar impactors, the Moon Impact Probe from India's Chandrayaan-1 has successfully crashed into the Moon. Now which country will be next to join the club of nations that have sent probes to the Moon? And how long will it take for India to send a successful lunar lander?
One thing I haven't heard much about is new scientific results from the impactor. I wonder how they would compare with those that we'll get from LCROSS next year?
If you like astronomy, or if you just like the Sun and the Moon, there is going to be a total solar eclipse on August 1. It will be visible from select regions in Canada, Greenland, Russia, and China. For the rest of us, we'll only be able to observe a partial solar eclipse at best, so I'll probably be keeping an eye on NASA TV to get a live look at the total solar eclipse. Or maybe I'll just catch a rerun.
Previous attempts at finding water in the lunar rocks failed because researchers could not tell whether any water detected was truly part of the original lunar material or whether they were Earth-based contaminants. Using secondary ion mass spectrometry, researchers were finally able to discover that lunar volcanic glasses contained water in a concentration of about 46 parts per million. Based on this, they estimate that the Moon once must have had water concentrations of 750 parts per million in its mantle.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise, since the Moon probably formed from the impact of a Mars-sized body with the Earth, so plenty of water must have been mixed in the impact debris. But after thinking of the Moon as a completely dry body for a long time, the news of the discovery had an impact.
The image of lunar volcanic glasses retrieved by Apollo 17 is courtesy of NASA.