Russia’s Luna-25 Sends Back First Images from Space
Russia’s Luna-25 mission, the country’s first lunar lander since 1976, has successfully beamed back its first images from space. The mission, which launched on August 10 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, is the first domestically produced probe sent to the moon in modern Russian history. The previous moon mission from what is now Russia, Luna-24, was launched in 1976 and returned lunar samples weighing about 6.2 ounces (170 grams). The launch of Luna-25 faced delays due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has affected international spaceflight cooperation.
The first images taken by Luna-25 were released by the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The black-and-white photos show the Russian flag and mission patch on the spacecraft’s structure, as well as images of Earth and the moon against the backdrop of space. The images were captured at a distance of approximately 192,625 miles (310,000 km) from Earth. In comparison, the moon is about 238,855 miles (384,400 km) away from Earth on average.
Initial concerns about the state of Luna-25 following its launch were dispelled by the images, which indicate that the lander is healthy and on its way to the moon. According to the Space Research Institute, 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 Tuesday, August 15, and orbit Earth’s satellite for five to seven days. The lander will then attempt a landing near one of three craters near the lunar south pole. The mission’s objective is to analyze lunar soil, search for water ice, and conduct experiments to study the moon’s thin atmosphere. Luna-25 is equipped with eight different instruments, including a laser mass spectrometer and a device that can analyze the chemical composition of lunar soil samples.
Luna-25 is part of a global trend of moon missions focused on studying or landing near 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 23. South Korea also launched the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) in August 2022, which carries the NASA-operated ShadowCam to search for water ice near the lunar south pole. NASA’s Artemis Program is planning to place humans near the moon’s south pole as part of the Artemis 3 mission, set to take place no earlier than 2025.
In conclusion, Russia’s Luna-25 mission has successfully sent back its first images from space, marking the country’s first lunar lander in over four decades. The mission aims to analyze lunar soil, search for water ice, and study the moon’s thin atmosphere. Luna-25 joins other international missions focused on the lunar south pole region, including India’s Chandrayaan-3 and South Korea’s KPLO.