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Pakistan Lunar Research Satellite Will Study Magnetic Field of the Moon

Pakistan witnessed the launch of its first lunar satellite May 3, on China’s historic Chang’e-6 launch. Pakistan reserved a space for its satellite on China’s Long March-5 rocket, which blasted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island, and which carried China’s Chang’e-6 probe, that will retrieve surface samples from the Moon’s largely unexplored South Pole, known as part of the “dark side” of the Moon.

According to the Institute of Space Technology in Islamabad (IST), Pakistan’s lunar cube satellite named ICUBE-Qamar (or ICUBE-Q for short), carried into space by the Long March, will go into lunar orbit May 8 for three to six months, photographing the surface for research purposes. IST engineers say ICUBE-Q is also designed to “obtain lunar magnetic field data; establish a lunar magnetic field model and lay the foundation for subsequent international cooperation on the Moon.”

IST developed the ICUBE-Qamar satellite in collaboration with the country’s space agency, SUPARCO, and China’s Shanghai University. Qamar means Moon in Urdu. The ICUBE-Q orbiter has two optical cameras that will gather images of the lunar surface. Reportedly, this program was initiated under deposed Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Pakistan’s space scientists and engineers will gain immensely from the experience and the knowledge of its satellite launch. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif issued a statement: “I congratulate the entire Pakistani nation on this historic milestone of Pakistan’s first lunar satellite mission launch, in collaboration with China’s Chang’e-6 mission. Today marks a momentous leap for Pakistan’s space science program…. This achievement will inspire young minds in science and research, strengthen our Lunar Program and expand our knowledge of the Moon.”

Pakistan joins a happily growing circle that have carried out lunar missions: China, the United States, the European Space Agency, Russia, India, Luxembourg, Italy, South Korea, the U.A.E., and Mexico.