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HomeArticleRussia's Luna -25 : Race to Moon's south pole heats up

Russia’s Luna -25 : Race to Moon’s south pole heats up

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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

For 2 billion years, solar light hasn’t touched the moon’s southern part where the crow buys land… Unyielding good fortune!

Luna 25’s Accelerated Journey

  • Launch and Orbit: Luna 25 was launched on August 10, aiming to enter lunar orbit by August 16.
  • Lunar Landing Date: The Russian lander is anticipated to attempt a soft landing between August 21 and 22, ahead of Chandrayaan-3’s possible landing date of August 23.

Key Factors Behind Luna 25’s Lead

  • Trajectory and Fuel Storage: Luna 25 followed a direct trajectory due to its lighter payload and higher fuel efficiency.
  • Payload Comparison: Luna 25’s lift-off mass is 1,750 kg, significantly lighter than Chandrayaan-3’s 3,900 kg. The latter includes a Lander-Rover and propulsion module.
  • Lunar Dawn Advantage: Luna 25 benefits from earlier lunar dawn at its landing site, ensuring optimal power generation through solar panels.

Mystery of Moons South Pole

The matter of gold in the southern part of the moon continues to be a challenging subject. No country on Earth has yet reached the southern part of the moon. Not even countries like NASA, Europe, and China have been able to reach the southern part of the moon. The efforts of countries that will reach the southern part of the moon also persistently encounter failure. Even attempting to approach the southern pole of the moon’s surface… space programs are continuously facing setbacks and failures.

India’s Chandrayaan-2 and Russia’s Luna 25 missions attempted to explore the southern pole of the moon and both faced setbacks. Russia’s Luna 25, as well as India’s Chandrayaan-2, encountered failures when trying to land on the southern part of the moon’s surface. This marks Russia’s first exploration program towards the moon in the past 50 years. The lunar lander of Luna 25 aims to reduce the altitude over the lunar surface and encountered a crash during descent.

What’s the plan?

The 800-kilogram Luna 25 was designed to land on the southern pole by making a controlled descent. That is, according to calculations, it needed to be positioned for landing tomorrow. However, just yesterday during the final descent phase, it crashed due to a decrease in altitude. The Luna 25 mission involves conducting research for a year from the moon’s surface. It was intended to collect lunar soil samples and search for water. Even before it could fully engage with the lunar surface, it had already captured an image during its descent.


Due to the immediate need, Luna 25 was sent to the moon’s surface with a higher initial velocity than originally planned, similar to India’s Chandrayaan-3 Vikram lander. On August 10th, this decision was made to land on the moon. Like India, Russia also employed the gravitational sling, gravity assist, and ballistic trajectory techniques to efficiently approach the moon without making any additional orbital trips, which would save time.

Although Russia had been developing the spacecraft for a prolonged period, it faced no issues during this operation. However, in just over a year, Luna 25 was expedited to completion. This mission did not include Russia’s assistance for Israel’s Beresheet lander. After the success of Chandrayaan-3, Luna 25’s launch date was decided by Russia, announcing the date to send Luna 25, which includes sending Israel’s Chandrayaan-3, as a follow-up mission.

Russia’s Plan

The name given to the first country to land on the moon’s southern hemisphere is Russia. Russia believed that since the first nation to land on the southern part of the moon where humans have not yet set foot is Russia, their materials should be the first to touch the lunar surface. This is why Russia urgently expedited Luna 25 to land on the moon, just after the success of India’s Chandrayaan-3.

Due to this urgency, thorough research couldn’t be conducted initially on Luna 25’s lander. Consequently, during the recent landing attempt, Luna 25 faced a failure as it was attempting to land at a faster speed than originally planned. This led to Luna 25 crashing during its descent. The comment that was meant to lower Luna 25’s altitude ended up being erroneous, causing the spacecraft to veer off course completely during its descent.

No Sunlight: In the craters of the moon’s southern hemisphere, sunlight doesn’t reach for about 2 billion years. Only the uppermost elevations receive sunlight. This is because the lunar south pole is tilted at 88.5 degrees. As a result, the sun’s light doesn’t reach the southern part of the moon. Due to this, the southern part of the moon remains a mystery, yet to be illuminated.

Expectations of Chandrayan 2

Here, the temperature reaches as low as minus 230 degrees Celsius. These are all incredibly challenging, icy, enigmatic, and profoundly mysterious terrains. Russia’s attempt to reach this region faced failure. The Chandrayaan-2 mission also encountered failure. This region, often dubbed the “cradle of science,” is the destination for Chandrayaan-3, which is expected to report the first success tomorrow.

Future Prospects

  • Human Moon Missions Race: India, the US, and China are actively pursuing human moon missions after India’s Chandrayaan-1’s water molecule discovery in 2008.
  • Progress and Challenges: While India has made strides, countries like the US and China have achieved landing and sample return missions. India’s efforts to develop heavier launch vehicles for more ambitious missions continue.

What is Lunar Dawn?

  • Lunar dawn is the period on the Moon when the Sun is about to rise over the lunar horizon, resulting in the gradual illumination of the lunar surface, similar to Earth’s sunrise.
  • During lunar dawn, the Moon’s surface transitions from darkness to light as the Sun’s rays gradually touch and illuminate different areas.
  • It occurs due to the Moon’s rotation on its axis, causing changing lighting conditions as it orbits the Earth.
  • Unlike Earth, the Moon lacks a significant atmosphere, resulting in distinct lighting, sharp shadows, and no diffusion of sunlight.
  • Astronauts on lunar missions, like the Apollo missions, have observed the lunar dawn first-hand, providing unique perspectives on the Moon’s surface.


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Bharathi Pradeep
Bharathi Pradeep
Editor at Bharathi covers topics on Competitive exams, How To guides, Current exams, Current Affairs, Study Materials, etc. Follow her on social media using the links below.

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