Video: Seeing Earth from the moon

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 6/10/2009 9:33:34 PM ET 2009-06-11T01:33:34

A Japanese probe ended more than a year of orbiting the moon with a controlled crash-landing on the lunar surface, officials said Thursday.

The Kaguya probe hit the moon at about 1825 GMT (2:25 p.m. ET) Wednesday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, said in an online status report.

The probe was launched in September 2007 and completed all of its scheduled observations. Its mission was extended, and it had been in low lunar orbit since January last year.

Kaguya was due to hit the moon's surface at an angle of less than 1 degree, probably creating a red flash, a JAXA official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, citing agency policy.

If left alone, Kaguya would have eventually fallen to the moon on its own, but JAXA wanted to control its crash and make final observations, the official said.

Kaguya's trajectory took it near the moon's southern pole, JAXA said. There was a slight possibility that the impact flash might have been observed from Earth. The space agency asked sky observers to send imagery of any flashes that might have been seen.

During the Kaguya project, Japan launched two other orbiters to relay data. One fell to the moon in February, while the other has been measuring gravity around the moon and is still in orbit.

More on Kaguya | moon

This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com.

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