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Here’s the story of a lunar image that doesn’t look remarkable, but really is

Enlarge / The first ShadowCam image from orbit reveals the permanently shadowed wall and floor of Shackleton Crater in never-before-seen detail. (credit: NASA/KARI/Arizona State University)

After launching on a Falcon 9 rocket in August 2022, the Korean Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter slid into orbit around the Moon last month. This was South Korea’s first lunar probe, and among its chief objectives was surveying the polar regions of the Moon for resources such as water ice.

One of the six instruments carried by the half-ton satellite was a hyper-sensitive camera built by NASA called ShadowCam. The camera was designed with maximum sensitivity to light, such that it could provide images of permanently shadowed regions of the poles—which is to say, capture images of things that are inherently very dark.

Earlier this week, the ShadowCam team released its first image, which reveals a wall and the floor of Shackleton Crater near the South Pole of the Moon. At first glance, there’s nothing remarkable about the photo. It looks a lot like… the Moon.

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