South Korean lunar probe captures stunning images

⇧ [VIDÉO] You may also like this affiliate content (after ads)

The Danuri probe, developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), has been in orbit around the moon for just over a month. This is the first KARI mission to go beyond Earth orbit. It is also the first phase of the lunar exploration program set up by the Institute. The machine is equipped with six scientific instruments, including three cameras, which now offer spectacular images of our planet and its moon.

The Danuri probe, originally named the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), is a project developed in collaboration with NASA. It was launched in early August from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The craft entered lunar orbit in mid-December; Since then, it has been scanning our satellite’s surface to determine the best landing sites for future missions – data that will be used by both KARI and NASA as part of their Artemis program.

This 678 kg orbiter, equipped with two solar panels, is primarily a technology demonstrator, the results of which will allow South Korea to better prepare its future exploration missions. Danuri is expected to remain in lunar orbit at an altitude of about 100 km for 11 months. In addition to creating an accurate topographic map, the orbiter is responsible for compiling a list of available lunar resources and mapping the spatial distribution of elements (water ice, uranium, helium-3, etc.).


Show the world your passion for space and that you also support the fight against global warming.

Six payloads to fulfill its scientific mission

Among the instruments on board are three cameras: LUTI (LUnar Terrain Imager) and PolCam (polarimetric camera) of Korean production, as well as ShadowCam provided by NASA.

LUTI imager is a high resolution camera (< 5 meters) that is supposed to photograph the lunar surface to identify potential landing sites. The Wide-angle Polarimetric Camera (PolCam) is responsible for obtaining polarimetric images of the entire lunar surface, except for the polar regions, with an average spatial resolution; these images will be used to characterize the lunar regolith in detail. ShadowCam must evaluate the reflectivity of permanently shadowed areas at the poles to identify possible water ice deposits.

KARI has just transmitted the very first photographs taken by the probe during its transit and since it has been in orbit. The images are exceptional. The probe, in particular, took a series of 15 images showing the movement of the Moon around the Earth; its images were taken on September 25 within three hours from a distance of approximately 1.54 million kilometers.


The ship also took two impressive photographs of the Earth rising above the lunar horizon. We can make out every detail of the cratered surface. These images were taken two days after the probe entered lunar orbit.

image earth surface moon danuri probe

An image of the Earth and the lunar surface taken by Danuri on December 28, 2022 at an altitude of 124 km. © KARI

Moon landing planned for early 2030s

In addition to imagers, the Danuri probe is equipped with a KGRS spectrometer (KPLO Gamma Ray Spectrometer), whose role is to identify all chemicals present on the surface and to determine their spatial distribution. It also includes a magnetometer (KMAG for KPLO magnetometer); the data collected by the instrument will help understand the evolution of the lunar magnetic field and allow characterization of electromagnetic waves near the surface.

Finally, communications equipment is also on board to test the “latency tolerant network” technology. We are talking about testing the performance of a computer network with delays of several minutes – a kind of interplanetary Internet. The science mission should officially start on February 23rd.

Thus, after Japan, China and India, South Korea becomes the fourth Asian country to implement a space exploration program. Note that KARI is also developing its own rockets to provide its country with independent access to space. The first rocket, the Korea Satellite Launch Vehicle 1 (KSLV-1), developed jointly with Russia, made its last flight in 2013.

On the other hand, KSLV-2 was completely developed by South Korea. Its first flight, made in October 2021, ended in failure; but in June 2022, on a second attempt, the craft successfully entered Earth orbit, making South Korea the 11th country to place a satellite into orbit using a locally manufactured launch vehicle. The South Korean Space Institute predicts a moon landing early next decade. This mission will involve an orbiter, a lander and a rover.


Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.