Space: South Korea’s first lunar probe transmits images of Earth and Moon

The photos and videos will be “used to select sites likely to host a moon landing in 2032”, explains the Korean Institute for Aerospace Research in a press release.An image taken on Dec. 31, 2022, provided by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, shows the lunar surface and Earth taken by South Korea’s Danuri lunar orbiter, after reaching the Moon. (AFP)

South Korea’s first lunar probe has transmitted stunning black-and-white photographs of the lunar surface and Earth, the South Korean space center reported on Tuesday (January 3rd). Danuri (a contraction of “Dal”, which means Moon, and “Nuri” which means enjoy) took off in August from the United States aboard a SpaceX rocket and entered lunar orbit in December after a extended flight to save fuel.

These images, taken between December 24 and January 1, were taken less than 120 kilometers from the lunar surface, the Korea Institute for Aerospace Research said in a statement. These photos and videos will be “used to select sites likely to host a moon landing in 2032”, he added. Danuri completes a full orbit around the moon every two hours, the space center said.

A test for the “space internet”

The orbiter will begin its science mission next month, during which it will map and analyze the lunar surface, and make measurements of magnetic force and gamma rays. It will also test “space internet”, an experimental technology, by transmitting photos and videos to Earth.

President Yoon Suk-yeol hailed Danuri’s exploits in December, calling it a “historic moment” in the history of South Korea’s space program. South Korea has outlined ambitious plans for space, including landing a spacecraft on the moon by 2032 and sending a lander to Mars by 2045.