Russia’s Luna-25 Lunar Lander Beams Back First Images from Space
Russia’s Luna-25 mission, the country’s first lunar lander since 1976, has successfully sent back its first images from space. The mission took off on August 10th from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Amur Region. Luna-25 is the first domestically produced probe sent to the moon in modern Russian history.
The last moon mission from what is now Russia, Luna-24, was launched in 1976 and returned 6.2 ounces (170 grams) of lunar samples. The launch of Luna-25 faced multiple delays, partly due to the effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine on international spaceflight cooperation.
The Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI RAS) published the first images on August 14th. The black-and-white photos showcase the Russian flag and mission patch on the spacecraft, as well as images of Earth and the moon against the backdrop of space.
According to IKI RAS, the images were taken at a distance of about 192,625 miles (310,000 km) from Earth. The moon, on average, is approximately 238,855 miles (384,400 km) away from Earth.
The images have put to rest initial speculation about the state of Luna-25 following its launch. The lander appears to be in good health and on track to reach its lunar destination. IKI RAS confirmed that all systems of the spacecraft are operating normally, communication with the station is stable, and the energy balance is positive.
If all goes according to plan, Luna-25 will reach the moon on August 15th. It will then orbit Earth’s satellite for five to seven days before attempting a landing near one of three craters surrounding the lunar south pole. The probe is designed to operate for at least one year.
Once on the lunar surface, Luna-25 will analyze lunar soil, search for water ice, and conduct experiments on the moon’s thin atmosphere. The lander is equipped with eight different instruments, including a laser mass spectrometer and a device that can analyze the chemical composition of lunar soil samples.
Russia’s Luna-25 mission adds to the growing list of international moon missions focused on studying or landing in the lunar south pole region. India’s Chandrayaan-3 rover recently entered lunar orbit and is expected to touch down near the moon’s south pole on August 23rd. South Korea also launched the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) in August 2022, carrying the NASA-operated ShadowCam, which aims to hunt for water ice near the moon’s south pole. Additionally, NASA’s Artemis Program plans to place humans near the moon’s south pole by 2025 as part of the Artemis 3 mission.
The successful images from Luna-25 mark an important milestone for Russia’s lunar exploration efforts. As more countries and space agencies turn their focus to the moon’s south pole, we can expect to learn more about the moon’s composition, resources, and potential for future human exploration.
- Russia’s Luna-25 mission has successfully sent back its first images from space, marking the country’s first lunar lander since 1976.
- The images show the Russian flag and mission patch on the spacecraft, as well as Earth and the moon against the backdrop of space.
- The lander is healthy and on track to reach its lunar destination, with all systems operating normally.
- Luna-25 will analyze lunar soil, search for water ice, and conduct experiments on the moon’s thin atmosphere once it reaches the lunar surface.
- The mission adds to the increasing number of international moon missions focused on the lunar south pole region, including India’s Chandrayaan-3 and South Korea’s Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO). NASA’s Artemis Program also plans to place humans near the moon’s south pole by 2025.