Impact site of Israel's failed moon lander revealed

The Beresheet spacecraft crashed on the lunar surface on April 11.

Nasa has spotted the area where Israel’s failed moon lander crashed on the lunar surface last month, showing the impact of its hard landing.

Non-profit organisation SpaceIL sent its Beresheet craft into space in February on board a SpaceX rocket, with the aim of becoming the first private craft to do so.

The American space agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) photographed the site 11 days after the attempted landing on April 11, on a region of the moon known as the Sea of Serenity, about 56 miles above the surface.

Nasa is unable to tell whether Beresheet formed a surface crater upon hitting the moon, but said it was possible a small indent was formed instead.

The photo shows a light halo that could be gas associated with the impact or fine soil particles swept up by the lander’s descent, Nasa said.

“There are many clues that we’re actually looking at a man-made crater instead of a meteoroid-caused one,” the agency said.

“This is an important consideration, since the moon, having no atmosphere, is constantly bombarded by space rocks that leave craters.”

Israel’s Beresheet moon lander
Israel’s Beresheet moon lander (PA Graphics)

The four-legged spacecraft, which is around the size of a washing machine, had been circling the Earth in increasingly large orbits waiting to be captured by the moon’s gravity.

Beresheet – whose name is Hebrew for Genesis – was intended to measure the magnetic field at the landing site and travelled with a time capsule including a picture of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who died on the space shuttle Columbia in 2003, as well as a lunar library containing 30 million pages on a disk from the US-based Arch Mission Foundation.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time.

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