South Korea’s lunar orbiter: The first image dump from the Danuri spacecraft, which entered lunar orbit in December 2022, is extraordinary.
The Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), which has been in orbit above the moon for a little over a month, is now returning magnificent photographs of both our globe and our rocky neighbor.
The images, which were published on the website of the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (opens in new tab) (KARI), depict a variety of lunar landscapes, including two breath-taking black-and-white shots of the enormous Earth rising over the moon’s crater-strewn horizon as well as a time-lapse photograph of the moon’s orbit around Earth captured over a period of several hours.
The KPLO, also known as Danuri
The KPLO, also known as Danuri, is South Korea’s first exploratory space mission to leave Earth orbit and is a collaborative project co-managed by KARI and NASA. Danuri is a combination of the Korean words “dal,” which means moon, and “Nuri,” which means enjoy, according to NASA(opens in new tab). On August 4, 2022, the orbiter was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
South Korea’s lunar orbiter: The spacecraft entered lunar orbit in the middle of December and started measuring the moon’s surface to find suitable landing locations for upcoming moon missions. NASA’s ongoing Artemis mission, which seeks to send astronauts back to the lunar surface and construct a permanent facility there by 2025, could benefit from Danuri’s discoveries as it plans the following phases.
Danuri will spend 11 months in orbit above the moon, so we can anticipate seeing many more breathtaking pictures from the orbiter this year. Enjoy these first pictures of Earth and its space-faring partner in the meantime.
Danuri began photographing the moon’s journey to the moon on September 15 and did so every day for a whole month. The above composite image was created on September 25 after the orbiter collected 15 photographs over a period of nearly 3 hours.
Danuri captured this picture of the huge Earth rising beyond the moon’s horizon two days after entering lunar orbit. Danuri will investigate the shadowy interiors of craters like those in the foreground later in its mission to check for any signs of water ice.
This photograph was shot by Danuri during her four-month journey from Florida to lunar orbit, showing the moon and Earth from opposing sides of the sky.