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Home / Science / NASA images reveal crash site of Israel's failed private lunar lander

NASA images reveal crash site of Israel's failed private lunar lander



On April 11, the Israeli nonprofit organization SpaceIL attempted to land a small robot on the lunar surface. But a flawed software command apparently turned off the main engine of the lander.

SpaceIL rebooted the spacecraft called Beresheet and revived the engine, but it was too late. The spaceship crashed into the moon, never to hear again.

NASA scientists now said they had found the impact site of the 1300-pound spacecraft and photographed it with the Agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is constantly taking pictures of the lunar surface.

New before-and-after images, taken around April 22 and released Wednesday, show the results of the high-speed Beresheet crash. The pictures of LRO's camera system, called LROC, are shown in the following animation.

"As the spaceship landed, it first touched the surface about 1

,000 meters per second [1945902] faster than intended," said Mark Robinson, lunar researcher at NASA, in a blog post about the imagery.

This speed is about twice as high as a bullet fired by a weapon. Robinson added that Beresheet came down at a sharp angle and disintegrated on impact, leaving a large scar on the moon.

According to Robinson, the speed with which Beresheet's impact pierced the lunar surface rather than leaving a crater. This spread ground about 328 feet (100 meters), leaving a "dark spot" that was about 33 feet (10 meters) wide.

Below are two pictures of the impact site. The photo on the left is unchanged, while the image on the right is improved to improve the contrast and highlight the patterns of the floor thrown over the lunar surface.

An enlarged image shows the crash site of Beresheet, a 1,300-pound moonlander created by the Israeli non-profit SpaceIL. His blog post about the event, however, is uplifting.

"Despite the disaster, it is important to remember that Beresheet was the first spaceship to be developed and flown by a nonprofit organization to orbit the Moon," he said. "And SpaceIL has announced that it will try Beresheet 2 again!"

SpaceIL has not yet announced a scheduled launch date or other details.


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