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South Korea is launching the Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter, or KPLO, to the Moon in 2 August 2022 with SpaceX falcon 9 Rocket.
KPLO will study the Moon’s surface and help us plan future missions to the lunar poles.
KPLO represents the first step in South Korea’s Moon exploration plans, which aims for a robotic landing mission and more.
KPLO will allow it to reach the Moon by mid-December as planned regardless of any launch delays.
After entering a roughly 100-kilometer circular lunar orbit, KPLO will study the Moon for at least a year with its five scientific instruments.
This will help us better understand the Moon’s surface composition and the nature of its varied volcanic deposits.
ShadowCam’s camera is at least 200 times more sensitive than the one on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
This will allow it to see a shadowed region on the Moon as if it was sunlit!
ShadowCam will map the terrain inside permanently shadowed regions with a very high resolution, and help locate their water ice deposits and other such volatile resources based on how they reflect light.
ShadowCam isn’t the only NASA contribution to KPLO.
In March 2021, NASA selected nine scientists to join KPLO’s science team to help enhance the mission’s scientific output.
NASA and South Korea will also test a kind of an interplanetary internet on KPLO, which should be resistant to communications disruptions.
NASA is also providing technical assistance on mission design, deep space communications, and navigation technologies.
The KPLO mission comprises the first phase of South Korea’s lunar exploration program.
In the second phase, they plan to launch another lunar orbiter, a lander, and a rover.
In March 2021, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the robotic lunar lander will launch on an indigenously developed rocket before 2030.
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