From lunar orbit with love.
Russia is officially on the way to the Moon, the country's first lunar mission since 1976.
Russian state media recently shared the first images taken by its Luna-25 spacecraft, showing the Earth as a small dot in the distance. Another image shows the Moon as an equally small dot, surrounded by the vastness of outer space.
According to officially published data, the probe was about 192,625 miles from Earth. Roughly speaking, that's 80 percent of the way to the Moon.
Earlier today, the 1,700-pound probe reached the Moon's orbit, the first time a Russian mission has done so in almost 50 years. The goal is to attempt to land on the Moon four to six days from now.
The mission launched on August 10 atop a Soyuz rocket from a cosmodrome in eastern Russia following several delays caused by the country's invasion of Ukraine.
It's the first lunar probe to have been produced domestically in modern Russia, Space.com reports, in a notable achievement for the country's space agency, which has largely been abandoned by the international space community due to political turmoil.
Oddly enough, Russia isn't the only country hoping to land on the Moon in the upcoming weeks. India's Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft also sent back footage of the lunar surface just last week.
As Mashable points out, both countries are set to attempt to land their respective probes on the lunar south pole, a region suspected to hold vast reserves of water ice.
In other words, the race to return to the Moon is really starting to heat up — though if previous attempts are anything to go by, successfully descending to the lunar surface from orbit is anything but easy. India's Chandrayaan-2 mission, for instance, ended in failure back in 2019, with teams losing all communication with the lander just before it was meant to land.
Luna-25 may already be orbiting the Moon, but the process of having a descent stage adjust its orbit and slow itself to softly land on the cratered space rock is far more complex.
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