Japan Reaches Moon Orbit

Built on a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. H-2A rocket, Japan’s Kaguya probe consists of a central unit with two smaller satellites. The lunar explorer is now in orbit, 60 miles above the moon’s surface.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the satellite is in good health.

The data from the lunar mission will be used by NASA in future manned missions to the moon. Data includes chemical and mineral distribution of the soil, surface structure and gravity measurements.

Kaguya, which has a high-def TV camera, was named after a mythical lunar princess and represents Japan’s first dedicated lunar mission since 1990.

China and India are sending probes to the moon in 2008.

Kaguya reached the moon on the 50th anniversary launch of Sputnik 1.