Japan is going where no Japanese has gone before with its first lunar probe now orbiting the Moon. The Selenological and Engineering Explorer (SELENE), is considered the biggest lunar mission undertaking since the Apollo missions of the United States. It cost $279 million to launch. It uses two sub-satellites for the polar regions. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hopes that the new probe will help shed light on the Moon's origins. The picture above is an artist's rendition of the successful mission.
In related news, Star Trek actor George Takei, now 70, was honored with an asteroid bearing his name (7307 Takei). The asteroid, which was discovered by two Japanese astronomers in 1994 (hence its original name, 1994 GT9) follows a list of others named after people involved in the famous science-fiction series, like creator Gene Roddenberry (4659 Roddenberry), and Enterprise communications officer actress Nichelle Nichols (68410 Nichols).
It was astronomy professor Tom Burbine, of the Massachusetts Mt. Holyoke College who lobbied for naming an asteroid after Takei, who is now known for his work on Howard Stein's radio show and in civil rights groups.
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