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Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO)
Mission typeLunar orbiter
OperatorKorea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)
Mission duration1 year (planned)
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerKorea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)
Launch mass678 kg (1,495 lb) [1][2]
Dry mass≈ 550 kg (1,210 lb) [3]
Payload mass40 kg (88 lb)
Power760 watts[4]
Start of mission
Launch date1 August 2022 [1]
RocketFalcon 9 Block 5
Launch siteCape Canaveral
Moon orbiter
Orbital insertion16 December 2022 [5]
Orbital parameters
Periselene altitude100 km [2]
Aposelene altitude100 km
Inclination90° (polar)
BandS-band, X-band[4][6]
Lunar Terrain Imager (LUTI)
Wide-Angle Polarimetric Camera (PolCam)
KPLO Magnetometer (KMAG)
KPLO Gamma Ray Spectrometer (KGRS)
Delay-Tolerant Networking experiment (DTNPL)
ShadowCam (NASA)
Phase 2: lander and rover →

The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) is a planned lunar orbiter by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) of South Korea. The orbiter, its science payload and ground control infrastructure, are technology demonstrators. The orbiter will also be tasked with surveying lunar resources such as water ice, uranium, helium-3, silicon, and aluminium, and produce a topographic map to help select future lunar landing sites.

The mission is planned to be launched in August 2022 on a Falcon 9 Block 5 launch vehicle.[1]


South Korea's space agency, called Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), together with NASA produced a lunar orbiter feasibility study in July 2014.[7] The two agencies signed an agreement in December 2016 where NASA will collaborate with one science instrument payload, telecommunications, navigation, and mission design.[8][9][10]

The Korean Lunar Exploration Program (KLEP) is divided in two phases.[9][11] Phase 1 is the launch and operation of KPLO, which will be the first lunar probe by South Korea,[8] meant to develop and enhance South Korea's technological capabilities, as well as map natural resources from orbit. The key goals of the KPLO orbiter mission include investigation of lunar geology and space environment, exploration of lunar resources, and testing of future space technology which will assist in future human activities on the Moon and beyond.

Phase 2 will include a lunar orbiter, a lunar lander, and a 20 kg rover,[12] to be launched together on a KSLV-2 South Korean launch vehicle from the Naro Space Center,[10][11] in 2025.[13][14]


The main objectives of this mission are to enhance the South Korean technological capabilities in the ground and in outer space, and to "increase both the national brand value and national pride".[15] The specific technological objectives are:[6]

From the lunar science perspective, understanding the water cycle on the Moon is critical to mapping and exploitation.[16] Solar wind protons can chemically reduce the abundant iron oxides present the lunar soil, producing native metal iron (Fe0) and a hydroxyl ion (OH) that can readily capture a proton to form water (H2O). Hydroxyl and water molecules are thought to be transported throughout the lunar surface by mysterious unknown mechanisms, and they seem to accumulate at permanently shadowed areas that offer protection from heat and solar radiation.[16]

Science payload

KPLO carries six science instruments with a total mass of approximately 40 kg (88 lb).[6] Five instruments are from South Korea and one from NASA:[17][10][16]

  • Lunar Terrain Imager (LUTI) will take images of probable landing sites for the 2nd stage lunar exploration mission and special target sites of the lunar surfaces with a high spatial resolution (<5 m).
  • Wide-Angle Polarimetric Camera (PolCam) will acquire the polarimetric images of the entire lunar surface except for the polar regions with medium spatial resolution in order to investigate the detailed characteristics of lunar regolith.
  • KPLO Magnetometer (KMAG) is a magnetometer that will measure the magnetic strength of the lunar environment (up to ~100 km above the lunar surface) with ultra-sensitive magnetic sensors.
  • KPLO Gamma Ray Spectrometer (KGRS) is a gamma-ray spectrometer that will investigate the chemical composition of lunar surface materials within a gamma-ray energy range from 10 keV to 10 MeV, and map their spatial distribution.[3][18]
  • Delay-Tolerant Networking experiment (DTNPL) will perform a communication experiment on delay-tolerant networking (DTN), a type of interplanetary Internet for communication with landed assets.[6]
  • NASA's ShadowCam will map the reflectance within the permanently shadowed regions to search for evidence of water ice deposits. The instrument is based on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter LROC camera, but it is 800 times more sensitive.[19] ShadowCam was developed by scientists at Arizona State University and Malin Space Science Systems.[20]


Originally planned for a December 2018 launch,[10][20] KPLO is now scheduled for an August 2022 launch on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle.[1] The orbiter will perform at least three highly elliptical orbits of Earth, each time increasing its velocity and altitude until it reaches escape velocity, initiating a trans-lunar injection. After launch, it will take the spacecraft about one month to reach the Moon.[10] The spacecraft's main propulsion is from four 30-newton thrusters, and for attitude control (orientation) it uses four 5-newton thrusters.[6][10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Lee, Jonghwa (27 September 2020). "한국형 달 궤도선, 2022년 8월 1일 발사된다" [Korean lunar orbiter to launch on August 1, 2022]. Maeil Business Newspaper (in Korean). Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (20 September 2019). "Launch of South Korean lunar orbiter delayed to 2022". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b Introduction to the lunar gamma-ray spectrometer for Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter Kim, Kyeong; Min, Kyoung Wook; et al. 42nd COSPAR Scientific Assembly July 2018; Bibcode: 2018cosp...42E1755K
  4. ^ a b "Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO)". NASA. 10 February 2021. Retrieved 27 February 2021. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ "한국형 달 궤도선, 2022년 8월 1일 쏜다" [Korean lunar orbiter launches on August 1, 2022] (in Korean). The Chosun Ilbo. 16 June 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) Status Update Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) 10 October 2017
  7. ^ "Opening of a New Chapter for Korea-US Space Cooperation" Signing of Korea-US Lunar Probe Implementation Agreement Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) 31 December 2016
  8. ^ a b KPLO Lunar Exploration Program Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) Accessed on 25 January 2019
  9. ^ a b SpaceX selected to assist 2020 South Korean lunar orbiter voyage Lee Keun-young, Hankyoreh 30 December 2017
  10. ^ a b c d e f South Korea's first lunar mission planned for 2020 Emily Lakdawalla, The Planetary Society 7 December 2017
  11. ^ a b Korean Lunar Exploration Program Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) Accessed on 25 January 2019
  12. ^ Kim, K.; Wohler, C.; Hyeok Ju, G.; Lee, S.; Rodriguez, A.; Berezhnoy, A.; Gasselt, S.; Grumpe, A.; and Aymaz, R.; (2016) Korean lunar lander – Concept study for landing-site selection for lunar resource exploration. The International Archives Of The Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing And Spatial Information Sciences, Vol XLI-B4, pp 417–423 (2016), 417. doi:10.5194/isprs-archives-XLI-B4-417-2016
  13. ^ Pak, Han-pyol (1 July 2013). "핵전지 실은 한국형 로버 … 지구서 우주인터넷 통해 조종". 중앙일보. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  14. ^ Kim, Jack (20 November 2007). "South Korea eyes moon orbiter in 2020, landing 2025". Reuters. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  15. ^ Prospective of Korean space project, Lunar Exploration Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), South Korea Accessed on 25 January 2019
  16. ^ a b c South Korea's 2018 Lunar Mission Paul D. Spudis, Air and Space Magazine 26 September 2016
  17. ^ Krebs, Gunter (16 March 2020). "KPLO". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  18. ^ Shin, J.; Jin, H.; Lee, H.; Lee, S.; Lee, S.; Lee, M.; Jeong, B.; Lee, J.-K.; Lee, D.; Son, D.; Kim, K.-H.; Garrick-Bethell, I.; Kim, E. (18–22 March 2019). KMAG: The Magnetometer of the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) Mission (PDF). Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Universities Space Research Association (USRA). Bibcode:2019LPI....50.2276S. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  19. ^ "ShadowCam: Seeing into the Shadow". Arizona State University. 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
  20. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (28 April 2017). "U.S. instrument team to fly camera on South Korean moon mission". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 27 September 2020.

External links

This page was last edited on 21 June 2021, at 10:38
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