The Danuri probe, which became South Korea's first lunar probe, sent back to Earth the first image of the Earth and the Moon. Thus, engineers confirmed the functionality of the camera, which examined the far side of the Moon from an unusual distance, according to the website of the Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KARI).
KPLO (or “Danuri”) was launched into space in early August this year, becoming South Korea's first interplanetary spacecraft, which it created with support from NASA. The device is equipped with five scientific instruments: three cameras, a magnetometer and a gamma spectrometer. The Danuri scientific program includes studies of the structure and composition of the lunar surface, its magnetic field, lunar vortices, as well as the search for ice in permanently shadowed craters near the poles of the Moon and an experiment to create a stable communication channel with the Earth.
On August 26, 2022, Danuri received the first image of the Earth and the Moon using the high-resolution camera LUTI (LUnar Terrain Imager). At the time of shooting, the probe was at a distance of 1.24 million kilometers from the planet, which is 12 thousand times greater than the working distance for photographing the surface of the Moon. Thus, the engineers wanted to test the functionality of the camera. The image shows Australia and Asia, and in the case of the Moon, its far side and part of the visible side, the dark Moscow Sea, the Eastern Sea, the South Pole-Aitken impact basin, as well as the young Jackson impact crater, which has bright, light rays, are visible.
Scientists also note that the device’s magnetometer recorded a significant drop in the magnetic field strength five hours after launch, which indicates that the boundary of the Earth’s magnetosphere has been crossed and will help refine its models. On September 2, Danuri performed a second trajectory correction maneuver, and on December 17 it should enter lunar orbit. After this, the probe will move to a polar orbit with an altitude of 100 kilometers, where it will begin a scientific program designed for at least a year.
Previously, we talked about how South Korea successfully launched its own launch vehicle for the first time.