Washington: NASA’s Moon orbiting spacecraft has spotted the impact site of the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft on a region of the Moon called “Sea of Serenity” where it crash landed April 11.
SpaceIL, a non-profit organization, attempted to land its spacecraft on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in the ancient volcanic field on the nearside of the Moon April 11.
After a smooth initial descent, Beresheet made a hard landing on the surface.
As soon as its orbit placed NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) over the landing site April 22, LRO imaged Beresheet’s impact site, NASA said in a statement late Wednesday.
LRO took the impact site image from 90 km 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,” said the US space agency.
LRO could not detect whether Beresheet formed a surface crater upon impact.
Another possibility is that Beresheet formed a small indent instead of a crater, given its low angle of approach, light mass and low velocity.
“There are many clues that we’re actually looking at a man-made crater instead of a meteoroid-caused one. This is an important consideration, since the Moon, having no atmosphere, is constantly bombarded by space rocks that leave craters,” said NASA.