Posted: Thu, Jun 11, 2009, 7:42 AM ET (1142 GMT)
A Japanese spacecraft completed its mission Wednesday by crashing to the lunar surface. The Japanese space agency JAXA confirmed that the Kaguya spacecraft hit the lunar surface at 2:25 pm EDT (1825 GMT) Wednesday in the Moon's southern hemisphere. The impact point was in darkness, and a flash apparently caused by the impact was observed by at least one telescope on Earth. The orbiter, launched in September 2007, had been gradually lowering its orbit in recent months in preparation for the impact. The impact comes just a week before the launch of another Moon mission, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. A second spacecraft on that launch, LCROSS, will observe the impact of the rocket's upper stage on the Moon before colliding with the Moon itself.