NASA has released a series of photographs showing Israel’s Beresheet moon lander crash site. The lander smashed into the lunar surface April 11.
A sharp-eyed NASA spacecraft spotted the remains of an Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL’s Beresheet spacecraft that nearly landed on the surface of the moon earlier this year. But the rover crashed after a malfunction caused its descent engine to shut down prematurely.
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has found the grave of Beresheet moon lander.
Visible in the image is also a white tail. NASA said is consistent with Beresheet’s trajectory and approach angle as the spacecraft came down April 11.
“LROC took this image from 56 miles (90 kilometers) above the surface. The cameras captured a dark smudge, about 10 meters wide, that indicates the point of impact. The dark tone suggests a surface roughened by the hard landing, which is less reflective than a clean, smooth surface,” NASA wrote on their website.
“The light halo around the smudge could have formed from gas associated with the impact or from fine soil particles blown outward during Beresheet’s descent, which smoothed out the soil around the landing site, making it highly reflective,” the agency added.
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When it hit, Beresheet was going about 1,000 meters per second(more than 2,200 miles per hour) faster than intended, Mark Robinson, a geologist at Arizona State University and the principal investigator of LRO’s imaging system, wrote in a blog post.
The $100-million Beresheet lander would have been the first privately funded spacecraft to touch down softly on the moon.
However, the team behind the spacecraft has vowed to try again with a second lunar lander named Beresheet 2.
The only spacecraft to have landed on the moon have been those built by the United States, Russia, and China.