Russia's Luna-25 moon lander snaps 1st pictures from space (photos)

The pictures appear to show that Luna-25 is in good health.

The first photographs from space have been returned by Russia's first lunar landing since 1976.

The Luna-25 mission, the first homegrown spacecraft to reach the moon in contemporary Russian history, launched on August 10 atop a Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia's far eastern Amur Region. The Luna-24 moon mission, was launched in 1976 from what is now Russia, brought back around 6.2 ounces (170 grams) of lunar samples. Due in part to Russia's conflict on Ukraine, which has had a significant impact on international spaceflight collaboration, the launch of Luna-25 had many delays.

The Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IKI RAS) captured the first photographs of Luna-25 on August 13 and released them on August 14. Images of Earth and the moon glowing brightly against the blackness of space are displayed with the Russian flag and mission patch on the spacecraft's structure in the collection of black-and-white photographs.

The Russian state space agency Roscosmos stated in a statement posted on Telegram on August 14 (translation by Google) that the images "show the elements of the device's design against the background of the Earth, from which we have already departed forever, and against the background of the moon, to which we will soon arrive."

According to IKI RAS, the photographs were shot at a distance of around 192,625 miles (310,000 km) from Earth. In contrast, the moon is typically located around 238,855 miles (384,400 km) from Earth.

Although there was some early concern expressed on social media about the condition of Luna-25 in the days following its launch, the photographs seem to allay these concerns and demonstrate that the lander is healthy and traveling to the moon.

In a statement that accompanied the photographs, IKI RAS stated that "all systems of the spacecraft are operating normally, communication with the station is stable, and the energy balance is positive" (Google translation).

If all goes as planned, Luna-25 will reach the moon on Tuesday, August 15, and then orbit the moon for five to seven days. The probe will then try to settle close to one of the three craters that encircle the lunar south pole. At least a year of operation was included into the probe's design.

Upon landing successfully, Luna-25 will study the lunar soil, look for water ice, and carry out research on the moon's tenuous atmosphere. The lander is equipped with eight distinct equipment, including a laser mass spectrometer and a tool for zapping lunar soil samples and analyzing the chemical makeup of the ensuing gases.

Luna-25 is the latest in a long line of multinational moon missions with the goal of exploring or landing close to the lunar south pole.

On August 7, the Chandrayaan-3 rover from India entered lunar orbit. On August 23, it is anticipated to land close to the south pole of the moon. In August 2022, South Korea launched the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) with the NASA-operated ShadowCam to assist in the search for water ice near the south pole of the moon.

And as part of the Artemis 3 mission, NASA's Artemis Program hopes to send people close to the moon's south pole no sooner than 2025.