South Korea marks anniversary of 1st lunar probe with new moon photos

a white swirl on the moon's dark surface, with small craters interspersed throughout the landscape
Photograph of the moon's Reiner Gamma swirl taken with the wide-field polarization camera on South Korea's Danuri lunar orbiter. (Image credit: KARI)

South Korea's space agency has released new images of the moon to mark the anniversary of the launch of its first lunar probe.

The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) launched on Aug. 4, 2022, atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and, after a four-month-long voyage, entered lunar orbit in December. 

The spacecraft, also known as Danuri, has been carrying out its science mission ever since. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) released new images from the moon mission via social media, linking back to the institute's pages.

Related: Missions to the moon: Past, present and future

Zoomed-in view of the moon’s Drygalski Crater taken with the high-resolution camera on South Korea’s Danuri lunar orbiter. (Image credit: KARI)

Images include views of Reiner Gamma, a so-called swirl, which features a localized magnetic field and marks a bright spot within the Oceanus Procellarum region. Another shows shadows inside Amundsen Crater, close to the lunar south pole and a potential landing site for NASA's Artemis 3 mission, which is slated to put astronauts on the moon in late 2025.

Another southern feature captured by Danuri is Drygalski Crater, showing the central peak inside the impact crater.

Other images have been previously released from cameras aboard KPLO, including those showing the phases of Earth as seen from lunar orbit.

Also aboard Danuri is ShadowCam, a NASA-funded hypersensitive optical imager. The camera builds on optics from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and provides unprecedented views into shadowed craters by collecting sunlight reflected off nearby landforms and light reflected from our planet onto the moon, or "Earthshine." ShadowCam also snapped LRO in a test of the camera's abilities.

Danuri is planned to orbit the moon for around a year. Data collected from Danuri will help support the planning of NASA's Artemis program.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.