• The Danuri spacecraft entered the lunar orbit in late December
  • It captured stunning photos of the Earth and the Moon
  • By February, it will start to perform its science tasks

South Korea's Danuri spacecraft has taken dramatic photos of the Earth and the Moon. The country recently became one of the few nations of the world to explore the Moon.

The Danuri orbiter launched aboard a SpaceX rocket in August 2022, according to AFP. By December of that year, it was already performing maneuvers to enter the lunar orbit, Korea Times reported.

Now, the orbiter has sent back some stunning photos of the Earth and the Moon, and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) has shared them with the rest of the world.

In a Facebook post, KARI shared photos taken by Danuri on Christmas Eve and just days later, on Dec. 28, as it successfully entered the lunar orbit. In the photos, one can see the stunning features of Earth against the blackness of space, with the rugged terrain of the Moon peeking from below.

"This picture was taken with a high-resolution camera (LUTI) mounted on Danuri," KARI said, as per a translation of the post. "You can clearly see the craters of the moon index and the shape of the earth."

달 상공에서 다누리가 보낸 인증샷📷✨이 사진은 다누리에 탑재된 고해상도 카메라(LUTI)를 이용해 촬영하였으며, 달 지표의 크레이터들과 지구의 모습을 선명하게 확인할 수 있습니다.📷사진 설명 1)12월 24일 크리스마스 이브에 달 상공 344km에서 촬영한 사진 2)12월 28일 달 상공 124km에서 촬영한 사진#다누리 #달 #지구 #인증샷

Another post from KARI shows another set of photos from Danuri, this time the ones that were taken just in time to celebrate the New Year on Dec. 31, 2022, and Jan. 1, 2023.

The photos again feature both the Earth and the Moon. But this time, the Earth looks a bit more dramatic, with part of the planet covered by a deep shadow compared to the whole blue marble that was observed just days before.

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So far, Danuri is still conducting some performance checks and error adjustments, according to KARI. But by February, it's set to begin its scientific missions, including taking photographs and testing "space internet" technology. It will also be looking for possible landing sites for future lunar missions, according to Korea Times.

South Korea has announced its plans to land a spacecraft on the Moon as early as 2032 and on Mars just a few short years later in 2045, as per AFP.

For now, Danuri is circling the Moon every two hours with speeds of 1.62 kilometers per second. Its successful entry into the lunar orbit on Dec. 28 made South Korea the seventh country in the world to explore the Moon.

South Korea's first lunar orbiter 'Danuri' successfully launched on a year-long mission to observe the Moon
South Korea's first lunar orbiter 'Danuri' successfully launched on a year-long mission to observe the Moon AFP / Jung Yeon-je