The South Korean spacecraft Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), more simply called “Danuri”, made a spectacular image of the side walls and the bottom of the Shackleton crater, located on the far side of the Moon.
The image showed the crater in unprecedented detail, illuminating areas that had previously been difficult to see when observed with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image of Danuri shows an incredible amount of detail, including the trace left by a 5-meter rock after rolling down the crater wall, as seen in the photo.
The South Korean orbiter launched on a Falcon 9 rocket in August and officially entered lunar orbit in December 2022. An extremely sensitive camera called ShadowCam, created by NASA, is one of six instruments attached to the orbiter. Its sensitivity allows it to see objects hiding in long shadows on the far side of the Moon. This was done thanks to the use of reflected light reflected from topographic objects nearby, as well as an incredibly sensitive sensor.
“The poles of the Moon are in a constant state from dawn to dusk, and the Sun never rises above the horizon. As a result, areas near the poles never receive direct sunlight,” writes Mark Robinson of Arizona State University, ShadowCam’s principal investigator, in a blog post.
According to Robinson, ShadowCam will assess the terrain for the upcoming NASA Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission and will observe how it changes with time or season.
Earlier we reported on how Draper would send a mission to the other side of the Moon.
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