- Korean probe sends the first image to scientists
- KARI Space Agency reported
The Danuri spacecraft, also known as the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in early August last year and arrived in lunar orbit four months later, in mid-December. With this milestone, South Korea joined an exclusive club of countries with successful lunar missions.
The Korean probe is ready for its mission
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) has now released a first set of impressive images from the Danuri mission, showing the crater, rugged lunar surface in the foreground and the distant Earth beyond. These are so-called panchromatic images, which contain only one spectral band, usually displayed using a greyscale.
The images were taken on December 24 and 28 by the Lunar Terrain Imager (LUTI) camera and will be used by Asian engineers to pick out suitable sites for South Korea’s robotic lunar landing mission, which is scheduled to launch around 2032.
The 678-kilogram KPLO spacecraft completed a series of ignitions in late December and entered orbit on December 26, where it has been operating at an average altitude of 100 kilometres above the lunar surface since then, KARI said in a statement. The orbiter is currently being commissioned to full operation ahead of the launch of its official science mission, which will take about a year.
NASA wants to put a man on the moon again
Five of the six science instruments on Danuri were made by Korea’s KARI, although one device on board bears NASA’s “stamp”. The ShadowCam instrument is designed to examine permanently shaded areas at the moon’s poles for any sign of water ice deposits. Its work could provide scientists with valuable data for future missions under NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to land astronauts on the Moon in 2025 or 2026.
Source of the preview photo: NASA, source: The Space