South Korean lunar mission captures stunning images of Earth after successful moon landing

South Korea’s first lunar mission transmits images of the house from its position in low lunar orbit.

Danuri, also known as the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), was launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in early August last year and arrived in lunar orbit four months later, in mid-December. This milestone adds South Korea to an exclusive club of countries with successful moon missions that also includes Japan, China and India.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) has released images from the $180 million Danuri, showing the Moon’s crater and textured surface in the foreground, with the Earth behind.

Related: South Korea’s Moonshot explores lunar magnetic mysteries and more

The images were taken on December 24 and 28 respectively by KARI’s Lunar Terrain Imager (LUTI). Engineers will use camera images to determine locations for South Korea’s robotic moon landing mission, scheduled to launch in 2032.

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The 1,495 lb (678 kg) KPLO completed a series of launches in mid to late December, with the spacecraft entering its planned orbit at an average altitude of 60 miles (100 kilometers) above the lunar surface on December 26. CARI statement.

The orbiter is currently undergoing commissioning ahead of its official science mission, which will last about a year.

An image of the Earth and Moon taken by the South Korean Danuri mission on December 24, 2022. (Image credit: KARI)

Five of the six Danuri payloads were developed by KARI, but NASA also has the instrument on board. The ShadowCam was designed to monitor permanently shadowed areas at the lunar poles for hints of water ice deposits, potentially providing valuable data for future NASA Artemis missions that aim to land astronauts on the Moon in 2025 or 2026.

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