A NASA lunar orbiter has spotted the final resting place of a private Japanese lunar lander that failed during its landing attempt last month.
THE Hakuto-R Lander, also carrying a small rover for the United Arab Emirates, made its landing attempt on April 25, aiming to land in the Atlas crater. However, communications with the lander were lost moments before the scheduled landing. The ispace team behind the lander later confirmed that the lander did not land safely on the surface.
Now the apparent crash site has been discovered in footage taken by the Lunar reconnaissance orbiter (LRO).
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On April 26, LRO acquired 10 images around the landing site with its narrow-angle cameras (NACs), and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) science team set out to search for the lander. lost.
Images released by the LROC team on Tuesday (May 23) show at least four prominent pieces of debris and several small changes on the lunar surface at 47.581 degrees north latitude and 44.094 degrees east longitude, according to a team. statement.
“The central feature in the image above shows several bright pixels in the upper left and several dark pixels in the lower right. This is the opposite of nearby rocks, suggesting that it may be a ‘a small crater or different parts of the lander’s body,’ the statement read.
“This site will be further analyzed over the next few months as LROC has the ability to reimage the site under various lighting and viewing geometries.”
LRO also imaged the sites of previous failed landing attempts, including the 2019 test by Israeli spacecraft Beresheet.
If successful, Tokyo-based ispace’s Hakuto-R would have become the first private spacecraft and the first Japanese-built vehicle to soft-land on the moon.
Despite the failure, ispace is already working to return to the moon and stick the landing. The company is working on its second and third lunar missions, targeting launches in 2024 and 2025, respectively.