Danuri, the first South Korean interplanetary probe, is about to fly to the moon!

Danuri, the first South Korean interplanetary probe, is about to fly to the moon!

South Korea is preparing to launch "Danuri", the first mission of the Republic of Korea to explore the Moon, also known as KPLO, providing support in navigation systems and communication between the Danuri probe and the Earth.

The mission's objectives are, first and foremost, the development of South Korea's space technology; the entire Danuri probe is in fact a big technology demonstration, but not all of it; the first topography map of the entire Selena surface will be developed in orbit around the Moon, as well as resources such as ice, uranium, silicates and aluminium, given this objective, as well as the special polar orbit from which the probe will fly over the poles, Danuri will also provide important support for the future Artemis mission.

After a journey lasting several months and becoming necessary because of a special orbit to be performed by the Danuri, the probe will reach a 100 km round lunar orbit at an angle of 90 degrees to the equator of the Moon, with a minimum operating life of 12 months, one of which is devoted entirely to calibration of the instrument. If the mission achieves minimum objectives, the mission may be extended for a further year.

This mission is a turning point for the Korean nation, a country that has great ambitions in space and important projects, and the Danuri launch follows another recent milestone, namely the success of the "Nuri", Korea's first self-developed orbital missile. As the KPLO acronym suggests, the Korean mission is only a precursor to a future moon landing mission. The mission, which will include a landing vehicle and a lunar, will not take place until 2030.

KPLO tools

Among the six instruments on board KPLO, one of the most important is the LUTI, which consists of two independent high-resolution cameras of less than 5 metres.

Another device, consisting of two cameras, is PolCam, in this case at 90 degrees to each other. PolCam will provide data on the moon surface, in particular on the regolithics and the distribution of titanium.

The moon surface will also be examined with the help of KGRS . Spectrometer, which will study the chemistry of materials on the moon surface by mapping the spatial distribution of gamma-radiation energy.

The other two instruments developed by Korean institutions are the KMAG, a magnetometer for studying lunar magnetism anomalies, and the DTNPL. The latter is an experiment that will test the interplanetary connection for data transmission and test its immunity to interference.

The last of the six experiments on board KPLO

The journey of the Korean probe will not be typical, as the Moon will be achieved in a trajectory called the Ballistic Lunar Transfer or BLT. To be precise, the method used by the Korean probe is called Weak Stability Bundary. In such an orbit, time is sacrificed for efficiency. In fact, it must arrive in orbit around our natural satellite in mid-December, which will take a total of about four months. This will save about 25 per cent of the probe ' s fuel compared to the normal trajectory. For KPLO, this means savings of 165 m/s μV, i.e. speed changes that it should achieve.

To reach the moon orbit with BLT, the probe must reach almost the Lagrangian point L1

Once the machine reaches the moon, it will take 15 days to reach its intended polar orbit, for which five more manoeuvres will be carried out. This phase is called lunar orbiting.

For all these manoeuvres, the probe is equipped with four main engines called Orbit Maneuver Trusters.