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Japan’s Lunar Lander Captures Stunning Photo of Earth During Eclipse

Jenna Lambert

Discover stunning images captured by Japan’s lunar landers in their final moments before crashing into the moon. Credit to JAXA and ispace.

In its final moments before shutting down, Japan’s lunar lander Kaguya captured a stunning photograph of Earth during a total solar eclipse. The image shows the Earth as a silhouette against the sun, with the shadow of the moon cast across the planet. The picture was taken on June 22, 2009, just three days before the spacecraft was deliberately crashed into the moon’s surface.

Kaguya, also known as SELENE (Selenological and Engineering Explorer), was launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in 2007 to study the moon’s surface and investigate its origins. The spacecraft carried multiple scientific instruments, including cameras, a laser altimeter, and a magnetometer.

Japan's Lunar Lander Captures Stunning Photo of Earth During Eclipse

This breathtaking ‘Earthrise’ image, taken by Japan’s Hakuto-R lander, was one of the last captured before it crashed into the moon. The photo shows the shadow of the moon during a total solar eclipse creeping over Australia, and is credited to ispace.

During its mission, Kaguya orbited the moon at various altitudes and angles, capturing high-resolution images and data that helped scientists better understand the moon’s geology and evolution. The spacecraft also deployed two smaller probes that studied the moon’s gravity and magnetic field.

In its final days, Kaguya was intentionally directed towards the moon’s surface to collect data on the structure and composition of the lunar crust. The spacecraft transmitted data back to Earth until it impacted the surface, allowing scientists to study the moon’s interior structure.

Japan's Lunar Lander Captures Stunning Photo of Earth During Solar Eclipse

This image of an ‘Earthrise’ was taken by Japan’s private lunar lander Hakuto-R just before losing contact with mission control. The photo is credited to ispace.

The photograph of Earth during the solar eclipse is just one of many stunning images captured by Kaguya during its mission. The spacecraft’s legacy lives on through the wealth of scientific data it collected, which continues to inform our understanding of the moon and its place in the solar system.

Jenna Lambert

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