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South Korea's First Lunar Mission Is On Its Way

samedi 6 août 2022, 02:45 , par Slashdot
South Korea's First Lunar Mission Is On Its Way
With the help of SpaceX and a Falcon 9 rocket, South Korea launched its first mission to the moon. 'The successful launch of Danuri, officially known as the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, takes the country beyond Earth's orbit for the first time,' reports Nature. From the report: Danuri should arrive at its destination around mid-December. Its trajectory means it will take longer than most past missions to the Moon, which typically arrived in days, but will require minimal fuel. About an hour after lift-off, the spacecraft detached from the Falcon 9 rocket on which it launched. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute's control centre in Daejeon then took command and made contact with the spacecraft.

The bulk of the mission's scientific observations will take place once Danuri reaches the Moon, which it will orbit for a year at 100 kilometres above the lunar surface. KGRS has a broader energy range than previous y-ray detectors sent to the Moon, and scientists hope that it will create the clearest maps yet of the distribution of elements including iron, titanium, uranium and thorium. [T]he spectrometer is also sensitive enough to detect hydrogen, which can be used to infer the presence of water on the surface, and create a water-resource map of the entire Moon. Previous probes have struggled to map the presence of water beyond the poles, where it is relatively more abundant.

KMAG will take precise measurements of the magnetic field on the surface. It will also study electric currents induced by the magnetic field of the solar wind, which streams out into space from the Sun, says Garrick-Bethell, who is part of the instrument's science team. Studying how these currents pass through the Moon could reveal what the Moon is made of deep inside. To do this, Danuri will make use of simultaneous measurements by two NASA probes currently circling the Moon, says Garrick-Bethell. This 'will make a beautiful experiment that was only briefly attempted in the Apollo era, but not over the entire Moon,' he says. You can watch a recording of the launch here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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