Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
The Kaguya Lunar Atlas
on 25 September 2011
On September 14th 2007 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the SELENE lunar orbiter. SELENE's mission was to further our understanding of the Moons origin, its surface environment and gravitational field. Amongst a host of science experiments the orbiter carried a High Definition Television camera (HDTV) specifically placed to capture panoramic `astronaut' views of the lunar surface.
SELENE, named after the Greek Moon Goddess but nicknamed Kaguya by the Japanese people after a mythical lunar princess, required a full year to image the lunar surface under optimal conditions. The HDTV camera captured significant surface features, impact craters, maria, rilles, lava flows and geological faults in stunning detail.
The Kaguya Lunar Atlas is a compilation of images from the HDTV. Split into two sections, part one explores the orbiters technology and mission objectives, some impressive images of Earthrise and the Earth's phases as seen by the orbiter's cameras are included. The remainder of the book depict one hundred image plates, each accompanied by a well written, detailed essay of the main features displayed. Seventy seven plates show landforms on the Earth facing side of the moon, the balance on the far side. The image scale varies throughout as Kaguya's altitude above the lunar surface drops from 116 to 21km.
The Kaguya Lunar Atlas works well in several ways. As a coffee table book it will grab and hold the attention of casual readers and is great to dip into occasionally as each page can be enjoyed in isolation. The book encourages readers to interpret the images for themselves. With a little experience one can examine the landforms and begin to work out the formation and modification processes without relying solely on the text. In effect, you lean to read the Moon. If you own a telescope, applying this knowledge at the eyepiece will almost certainly enhance lunar observing sessions and detail that may otherwise have been overlooked can be pursued and with far greater understanding. As a visual catalogue of significant lunar features the book simple excels.
What gives this book the edge over other lunar image compilations is not just the detail and quality inherent on every plate but the oblique angle at which they were captured. The images give a unique sense of actually being there.
Kaguya completed all mission objectives successfully and was impacted into the lunar surface close to crater Gill at 18.25 on June 10th 2009. The book contains the last six images sent back to Earth just before the controlled impact.