The Chandrayaan-3 lander on the Moon has become hot property and lunar orbiters are wasting no time to get a picture.
About a week after the United States' space agency NASA shared its image of the Vikram lander, the South Korean space agency Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) did the same on Tuesday (12 September).
"It looks like a small dot, but that dot is India's Lunar Lander Chandrayaan 3, which landed at the lunar south pole," KARI said in a Facebook post, sharing a couple of pictures.
"Danuri succeeded in capturing the landing site of Chandrayaan 3 with a high-resolution camera from the lunar mission orbit around 7:55 a.m. on August 27," the space agency said.
Danuri, also known as the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), is South Korea's first-ever lunar mission.
Launched on 4 August 2022, Danuri arrived in orbit around Moon in December that year with the aim to circle Earth's next-door neighbour about 100 km above the surface for a year. Operations began in February this year.
It carried five science experiments on board — a Lunar Terrain Imager (LUTI), a Wide-Angle Polarimetric Camera (PolCam), a Magnetometer (KMAG), a Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (KGRS), and a high-sensitivity camera developed by NASA (ShadowCam).
In the picture taken by Danuri, the Chandrayaan-3 lander appears larger than its surroundings. This is because of the highly reflective lunar soil that was kicked up as a result of the lander's thruster fire during descent, KARI explained.
In another KARI picture, the Chandrayaan-3 lander is located within the wider lunar landscape of the south pole region.
At the time that KARI took the pictures, the Vikram lander was exactly at the Shiv Shakti point, located about 600 kilometres from the Moon's south pole.
But days later, and just a day before it was put in sleep mode for the lunar night, the lander moved to a new place, about 30-40 cm from the original landing point, after it pulled off a historic hop on the surface of the Moon.
Chandrayaan-3 is India's third Moon mission. The lander and rover are currently asleep, awaiting the next lunar sunrise.
All the mission objectives — landing, roving, and science experiments — have been met, but there's some chance of the mission life extending beyond one lunar day (14 Earth days) if the lander and rover manage to dust themselves off and return to work at around 22 September.
Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.
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