Spacecraft carrying UAE Rashid rover takes images of Moon before Tuesday's landing attempt

Emirates close to becoming first Arab nation to have rover land on lunar surface

A stunning image of the lunar surface, with the Earth in the background, captured by ispace's Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander 100km above the Moon's surface. Photo: ispace
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The Japanese spacecraft carrying the UAE's Rashid rover has sent back images of the Moon a day before it will attempt its lunar landing.

The Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, built by ispace, took the two photos as it was flying only 100km from the Moon.

It blasted off into space in December for a five-month-long journey, with the Emirati-built rover and other international payloads stored safely inside.

The Moon-landing attempt will take place on Tuesday, at 8.40pm GST, and a live stream by ispace will begin an hour before on its YouTube channel.

"We are excited to share a new photo of the Moon taken by the lander's on-board camera from an altitude of about 100km above the lunar surface," ispace tweeted on Monday.

A landing sequence will begin tomorrow in which the spacecraft will perform a complex manoeuvre to decelerate and adjust its attitude (positioning in space) to land softly.

The success rate of soft lunar landing attempts is low, with only the US, the former Soviet Union and China having achieved the feat, although both India and Israel attained hard landings in 2019.

Because the Moon has no atmosphere, engineers cannot use parachutes to slow down the spacecraft, which instead has to use its propulsion system to change its velocity and attitude.

The unstable terrain of the lunar surface can make a safe landing more difficult.

Hakuto-R M1 will attempt to land on the Atlas crater in the Mare Frigoris region of the Moon's near side, facing Earth. The co-ordinates will be 47.5°N, 44.4 E°.

Ispace says three alternative landing sites have been selected as a precaution.

If the first attempt is delayed, the alternative landing dates are April 26, May 1 and May 3.

The Mare Frigoris region is also known as the Sea of Cold, as it is in the north polar region of the Moon.

Scientists find the area particularly interesting because of the light plains scattered throughout.

Studying these will help scientists learn more about the geological history of the unexplored region.

Updated: April 24, 2023, 3:56 PM