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NASA reveals the mystery of the elongated object in photos of the Moon

Added Sun, 07/04/2024
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Sun, 07/04/2024
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The American space agency NASA has revealed the identity of a strange elongated object captured last month by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

The unusual object was spotted by a narrow-angle camera on board the LRO during its routine flyby of the Moon in March. It was initially mistaken for an unknown space object, but now NASA has confirmed that it was the South Korean orbiting spacecraft Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO).

KPLO was launched in August 2022 by the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). This is South Korea's first official mission to put a spacecraft into moon orbit.

Last month, KPLO and LRO moved in almost parallel orbits, but in opposite directions. This allowed LRO to take pictures of the South Korean spacecraft as it flew by.

Due to the high speed of spacecraft movement and the short exposure time used by the LRO camera, the KPLO appeared elongated, almost ten times its actual size.

"It took perfect timing to take these pictures," said the LRO task force based at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

This is not the first time that one of these spacecraft has received images of the other. Last year, KPLO successfully photographed the LRO using a ShadowCam camera provided by NASA.

KPLO is designed for one year of operation, but, like LRO, it can enter a long phase during which it will descend to a lower position in orbit, located only 70 km above the surface of the Moon.

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