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NASA’s ShadowCam takes pictures of the Moon’s South Pole

NASA has taken some amazing pictures from the south pole of the moon’s surface that show more detail than ever before. This is helping scientists learn more about the dark part of the moon where humans on the Artemis III mission will land in 2025.

The pictures were taken by ShadowCam, a sensitive optical camera made by NASA. The US space agency said that the camera was on the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) probe, also called Danuri and made by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

Five Korean space devices were also on the spacecraft that had the camera. It was sent into space in 2022 using the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Shadowcam is best for getting clear pictures of the moon’s dark side. Compared to other cameras used to take pictures of the moon, it is more sensitive to light.

The pictures are helping to plan Nasa’s Artemis III and other trips without people.

This picture from April 28, 2023, shows the surface of the moon. — Nasa
NASA released this picture of the moon’s surface on April 28, 2023.
The permanently shadowed wall and floor of Shackleton crater near the South Pole are shown here in more detail than ever before in one of ShadowCam’s first pictures from lunar orbit. The amount of detail in this picture is possible because ShadowCam can work in very low light. According to NASA, it is 200 times more sensitive than the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Narrow Angle Camera.

Even though it can take amazing high-resolution pictures, it still needs help to take pictures of deep shadows. It can use Earthshine, which is light that comes back from the moon to Earth.

ShadowCam could see bright streaks of dirt coming down the walls of the hole.

ShadowCam also caught the peak in the middle of the Aristarchus crater with the help of Earthshine.

This picture from April 28, 2023, shows the surface of the moon. — Nasa
This picture from April 28, 2023, shows the surface of the moon. — Nasa
The camera also took a picture of the rim of Marvin Crater, which is about 16 miles (26 km) from the lunar south pole. It did this by using straight sunlight that was reflected off the moon.

As Artemis I finished its test run with the equipment that would take astronauts to the moon, the images started to show up.

The mission of Artemis II is set to happen in November 2024.

Commander Reid Wiseman, Pilot Victor Glover, Mission Specialist 1 Christina Hammock Koch, and Mission Specialist 2 Jeremy Hansen are the members of the Artemis 2 team.

The project will fly around the moon for 10 days without stopping.

NASA’s Artemis III mission will land on the moon in 2025, but ShadowCam won’t be able to take a picture of them if they are in the sun.