Japan Shoots First High-Definition of Earth Rising

Japan's space agency said it has shot the first high-definition image of the Earth rising, showing a crystal clear blue planet emerging from the moon's horizon.

The images were taken by Japan's Kaguya probe, the most extensive investigation of the moon since the Apollo missions of the United States that began in the 1960s.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a statement that the agency, working with Japan's public broadcaster NHK, "have successfully performed the world's first high-definition image of an earthrise."


The images show a brilliant blue globe with a white top at Antarctica against a backdrop of pitch black space. Australia is visible as a lightish brown island, as are the craters of the moon's surface.

The first image of the Earth was taken in 1959, when US Explorer VI took the first photo from space while passing over the Pacific Ocean.

Images of the Earth quickly became icons for the growing environmentalist movement amid concern that modern industry was destroying the planet.

The Kaguya took the image of a nearly full Earth as it travelled some 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Moon's surface.

"We may also try to shoot images of a full Earth," JAXA spokesman Akinori Hashimoto said.

The 55-billion-yen (495-million-dollar) Kaguya probe, named after a fairytale princess, was launched from southern Japan in mid-September.

The agency plans to begin the main part of the moon study in mid-December, including a review of the lunar gravity fields, Hashimoto said.

Japan has been expanding its space operations and has set a goal of sending an astronaut to the moon by 2020.

© 2007 AFP


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