South Korea is about to go to the moon

I love the duality of North and South Korea. The two countries almost feel like the real-life version of the Animaniacs' "good idea, bad idea" segments. However, instead of silly gags, it's about the differences between tyranny and representative democracy. 

No one can deny that South Korea is having a cultural moment right now. Between Parasite winning the Oscar for best picture, Squid Game becoming a global phenomenon, and bands like BTS and Blackpink ruling the music market, South Korea is in a new stratum of cultural omnipresence. Although making inroads in global culture is important, a nation's scientific progress is definitely more impactful. 

On Tuesday, South Korea will send an unmanned probe to the Moon in the country's first lunar mission. The trip will put South Korea in rarefied air, as very few nations have ventured to the Moon. The country is targeting mid-December as the month when the craft will officially reach the Moon's orbit. 

On Tuesday, August 2, a South Korean spacecraft carrying scientific instruments will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and begin charting a course to the moon.

The spacecraft is expected to arrive at its destination in mid-December and enter an orbit about 100 kilometers above the lunar surface, where its instruments will study the moon for at least a year, reports ScienceInsider's Dennis Normile.

The probe is expected to measure the magnetic force above the moon's surface, search for the presence of water ice, uranium, helium-3, silicon and aluminum, and map the surface topography to find landing spots for future missions, writes's Leonard David. The spacecraft carries "a cadre of instruments that will yield important information about the Moon," Clive Neal, a lunar scientist at the University of Notre Dame who is not involved in the mission, tells ScienceInsider.

South Korea will become just one of a handful of countries to have sent a mission to the moon. "Everybody is so happy and excited," Kyeong-ja Kim, a planetary geoscientist at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources in Daejeon, and principal investigator for one of the craft's instruments, tells Nature News' Smriti Mallapaty.

"It's just so cool to see more and more countries sending up their own orbiters and adding to the global understanding of what's going on on the moon," Rachel Klima, a planetary geologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, who is part of the research team, tells Nature News.