Russia launches Luna-25

Context
The Russian space agency, Roscomos, has successfully launched its first lunar lander in 47 years, marking a significant milestone in its space program.
The launch from Russia’s Vostochny spaceport in the Far East of the Luna-25 craft to the moon is Russia’s first since 1976 when it was part of the Soviet Union.
 What is Luna-25?
  • Objective: There are two primary objectives of the mission;
    • to study composition of the polar regolith
    • to study the plasma and dust components of the lunar polar exosphere
  • These samples are crucialfor understanding the lunar environment before any potential base construction.
  • Prime Location: The Luna-25 mission is part of a broader race to explore the lunar South Pole, a region believed to hold coveted pockets of water ice.
  • The spacecraft, roughly the size of a small car, will operate for a year on the moon’s South Pole.
Why South Pole is so important?
  • Scientists have detected traces of water ice in the region’s shadowed craters, making it a prime location for future lunar bases.
  • The discovery of water ice could be historic as it could be used to extract fuel and oxygen, as well as provide drinking water for future lunar inhabitants.
  • The mission’s success could potentially reshape the landscape of lunar exploration in the coming years, placing Russia at the forefront of this new space race.
How other nations are targeting Moon’s South Hole?
  • Major Powers such as the United States, China, India, Japan, and the European Union have all been probing the moon in recent years.
  • However, no country has yet made a soft landing on the South Pole. If successful, Luna-25 could potentially make Russia the first nation to achieve this feat.
Will it interfere with Chandrayaan-3?
  • India’s Chandrayaan-3, which is also poised for a landing in the same vicinity — the moon’s South Polar Region.
  • However, the two lunar missions, Luna 25 and Chandrayaan-3, won’t interfere with each other, as they have separate landing areas planned.
    • The Luna 25 mission aims to study the composition of the lunar polar regolith (surface material) and the plasma and dust components of the lunar polar exosphere.
    • Chandrayaan-3 aims to demonstrate a safe and soft landing on the lunar surface, rover mobility, and in-situ scientific experiments.
Other short route missions:
  • Luna-25 would not be the first Russian lunar mission to take the short route to the Moon.
    • The Soviet Union’s Luna-1, the first unmanned mission to reach close to the Moon, took just 36 hours to make the journey.
    • China’s Chang’e 2, launched in 2010, also took just four days covering the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and so did its follow up mission to the lunar surface, Chang’e 3.
    • Apollo-11’s command module, Columbia, carrying three astronauts, reached the Moon in just a little over four days.
Why Chandrayaan is taking too long?
  • Lack of powerful engine: Because ISRO, unlike the Russians, the Chinese and the Americans, does not have a rocket powerful enough to put Chandrayaan-3 on a direct path to the Moon.
  • Also, Chandrayaan-3 is following a very different trajectory: The mission used series of Earth orbits and engine burns to gradually increase the spacecraft’s speed and position it for a lunar insertion.

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