How many robotic explorers has the US sent into space? I'd say around sixteen, give or take a few. All we get back are grainy images that look no better than the $15 dollar webcam you can buy at the corner store. Leave it to the Japanese space program to strap a Hi-def camera to their first lunar satellite, and the resulting images are breathtaking.
The images were shot by the Kaguya lunar explorer on November 7th, and released by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on November 13th. The images above were shot while the explorer was near the moon's south pole.
It's really quite amazing. Congratulations to JAXA on a successful mission. The pictures alone were worth the effort.