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[i]A Japanese spacecraft touted to be the largest aimed at the moon since NASA's Apollo era rocketed into space late Thursday on an ambitious mission to study the origins of Earth's nearest neighbor.
The three-ton Kaguya lunar orbiter rode its H-2A rocket moonward at about 9:31 p.m. EDT (0131 Sept. 13 GMT), though it was Friday morning at Japan's island-based Tanegashima Space Center launch site. The probe was slated to circle the Earth twice before beginning a five-day trek to the moon, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has said.
Formally known as SELENE, short for SELenological and ENgineering Explorer, Kaguya carries 14 science instruments and two small microsatellites to make detailed maps of the moon's surface, probe its interior and study the lunar gravitational field.[/i]
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