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NASA Images Now Show Crash Site of the Israeli Beresheet Spacecraft

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The ill-fated Israeli Beresheet spacecraft attempted to land on the moon but it crashed instead during the landing sequence on April 11th. Now, NASA has released images that helped researchers discover the crash site, according to a CNN report.

Edited by: JV Staff

Israel was the smallest country to try a moon landing in a $100 million privately funded project.  Beresheet was privately funded by nonprofit SpaceIL. Its name was a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew, which translates to “In the beginning.”

Things went well during the descent, but then officials on Earth lost contact with the spacecraft. SpaceIL said its engineers believe that a technical glitch caused the main engine to shut down and later “made it impossible to slow the spacecraft’s descent.” Engineers were able to restart communications with the spacecraft, but officials said it was too late; it was moving too fast to land properly.

Other countries that have made it to the moon have been all superpowers; the United States, Russia and China. Suffice it to say, that the funding for space programs of these countries far exceeded that of Israel’s. Subsequent to the crash, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would make another attempt in the future to reach the moon successfully.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting for a decade, passed over the landing site April 22 and took images.

CNN reported that the photos, taken from 56 miles above the surface, feature a telling smudge 32.8 feet wide. There’s a halo of lighter, more reflective material around the dark smudge, suggesting that the soil around the landing site smoothed out as it was blown away, the agency said.

It’s not known whether the impact created a crater on the lunar surface. If there is one, it isn’t visible in the photos, but that could be due to the distance. It’s also possible that the impact formed only an indent, rather than a crater, because the spacecraft was lightweight and had a low velocity and a low approach angle, compared with a dense meteoroid of similar size, according to the CNN report.

The moon is impacted by material from space all the time, leaving craters behind.

The spacecraft was launched in February and went on a seven-week journey to reach the moon. It circled the Earth multiple times before being “slingshotted” to the moon, traveling about 4 million miles in the process.

If the Israeli team had been successful, it would have been the first private enterprise to make a controlled moon landing, with the smallest spacecraft and the smallest budget.

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