Last December, I blogged about satellite-naming being the new new creative gold prize of astronomy —or, as I wrote then, the "new UGG boots of the space agencies" (what was I thinking writing that?). The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was planning the launch of their new lunar orbiter (formerly called SELENE), advertised as the the biggest lunar exploration project since the Apollo Project. Who wouldn’t want to name that?

A winner has been chosen! KAGUYA. As LiveScience explains, the name is from an ancient Japanese tale “Taketori Monogatari” – the tale of the Bamboo-Cutter which involves Princess Kaguya, the Moon Princess." (To be clear, KAGUYA is not named after the genetically modified mouse born in 2004 from two parents of the same sex.)

As Space.com explains, the project is perhaps the world’s most extensive current study of the moon (and there are many projects):

SELENE consists of a main orbiting satellite located at about 100km altitude, and two small satellites (Relay Satellite and VRAD Satellite) in polar orbit. The orbiters will carry instruments for scientific investigation of the Moon, on the Moon, and from the Moon.

JAXA claims that SELENE will be the most sophisticated lunar exploration mission in the post-Apollo Era. According to the agency, SELENE will observe the distribution of the elements and minerals on the surface, the surface and sub-surface structure, the gravity field, the remnant of the magnetic field, and the environment of energetic particles and plasma of the Moon. The scientific data will also be used for exploring the possibilities of the future utilization of the Moon. JAXA will also establish the basic technologies for future Moon exploration: lunar polar orbit insertion, 3-axis attitude control and thermal control in lunar orbit. In addition, SELENE will take pictures and movies of Earth-rise from the Moon horizon.

Too bad "Spektor" wasn’t chosen.