NASA Captures Images of Beresheet Crash Site on the Moon

Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL attempted to land a small robot called Beresheet on the Moon. However, the landing failed due to what is thought to have been a mistaken software command shutting off the lander’s main engine. NASA scientists have announced that they have discovered the crash site along with most of the 1,300-pound spacecraft, and took pictures of it using NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Pictures of the Beresheet crash-site showing the results of its high-speed crash were taken on April 22, but were only released this week.

In a blog post about the new photos, Mark Robinson, a Moon researcher at NASA wrote, "While the spacecraft did land, it first touched the surface about 1,000 meters per second [2,200 mph] faster than intended."

That's approximately twice as fast as a bullet shot out of a gun. Robinson also wrote that Beresheet landed at a sharp angle, causing it to disintegrate upon impact and leaving a sizable mark on the Moon. However, Robinson said that due to the speed of Beresheet's impact, it gouged the lunar surface instead of resulting in a crater. The impact caused the soil to spread around 328 feet (100 meters) and left a "dark smudge" about 33 feet (10 meters) wide.

However, Robinson concluded the blog post in a positive way writing, "Despite the mishap, it is important to remember that Beresheet was the first spacecraft developed and flown by a nonprofit entity to orbit the Moon," he said. "And SpaceIL has announced they will be trying again, with Beresheet 2!"

Jessica Zeitz