The first photographs returned by the Luna-25 mission were released by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
On Friday, Luna-25, Russia’s first lunar lander in nearly 47 years, lifted off from Vostochny Cosmodrome atop a Soyuz rocket. The initial photographs that the spacecraft returned were made public on Monday by the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
Image credits: Roscosmos
As it approaches the lunar south pole, Russia’s first lunar lander mission since 1976 has transmitted its first photographs to Earth, according to a report from a source.
The Chandrayaan-3 lander from India and the Luna-25 mission are competing to be the first to land in a region of the Moon where scientists think there is a lot of frozen water present.
These black-and-white photos show the Russian flag and mission patch on the spacecraft’s exterior, along with arresting shots of Earth and the moon.
When Russia was still a part of the Soviet Union, Luna-24, its final Moon mission, was launched in 1976. About 170 grams of lunar samples were brought back during the Luna-24 mission. These fresh photographs were taken by Luna-25 on Sunday, August 13, and were made public by the space agency on Monday.
In the history of contemporary Russia, it is the first lunar probe to be made in Russia and the first in over 50 years. In 1976, the Luna-24 spacecraft launched and delivered a small sample of lunar regolith—or soil—to Earth.
The Luna-25 mission, which will try to settle close to one of three craters surrounding the lunar south pole, joins a rising number of international moon projects. It will orbit the moon for five to seven days after launch.
Image credits: IKI RAS
Over the course of a year-long mission, the Luna-25 mission seeks to understand the makeup of the moon’s surface and the plasma and particles that make up its tenuous atmosphere. The mission’s hunt for water ice beneath the lunar surface is one of its main goals.
The lander is equipped with eight distinct equipment, including a laser mass spectrometer and a tool for determining the chemical composition of lunar soil samples.
Despite initial concerns about Luna-25’s condition after launch, these photographs show that the lander is in good shape and travelling toward the moon.
As per a Telegram update by Roscosmos, the photographs were shot at a distance of around 310,000 kilometres from the planet.
Even though Chandrayaan-3 launched nearly a month earlier, the Russian lander was able to touchdown on the Moon’s south pole before the Indian mission. On or around August 21 or 22, Luna-25 will likely make an attempt at a gentle landing after entering a lunar orbit on August 16. On August 23, Chandrayaan-3 is scheduled to soft-land on the Moon.
The Chandrayaan-3 mission’s decreased fuel storage is being made up for by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) by taking a detour that will take advantage of the gravitational pull of the Earth and the Moon. It was launched from the planet and then manoeuvred through a succession of higher and higher Earth orbits before entering a lunar orbit. From there, it is now lowering its orbit with the opposite manoeuvres until it reaches a 100-kilometre lunar orbit.
Because scientists think there may be pockets of water ice buried beneath the lunar surface and inside shadowed craters that never see sunlight because of their inclination with respect to the Sun, the world’s top space agencies have focused on the lunar south pole.