It was so close. Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL very nearly landed its Beresheet spacecraft on the surface of the moon earlier this year, but an engine glitch on the way down NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has found the lander’s final resting place..
The LRO camera team shared images of the crash site on Wednesday, with before and after shots that show the blast mark Beresheet left in the Sea of Serenity on the lunar surface.
The dark smudge Beresheet left behind is about 33 feet (10 meters) wide. A lighter halo surrounds it.
LRO’s orbit put it into position to snap the area on April 22 at a distance of 56 miles (90 kilometers) above the moon’s surface.
“From so far away, LROC could not detect whether Beresheet formed a surface crater upon impact. It’s possible the crater is just too small to show up in photos,” NASA said. The agency said it’s also possible the spacecraft left a small indentation rather than a crater.
NASA’s sighting is a tough reminder of how close the Beresheet mission was to success. The team behind the spacecraft has vowed to try again with a.
SpaceIL achieved the first moon orbit by a privately funded spacecraft, but it intends to stick the landing next time.