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NASA locates crash site of Israeli spacecraft on Moon

Nasa tweeted the image of the crash site of SpaceIL's spacecraft. | NASA/Twitter

National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Moon orbiting spacecraft has located the crash site of the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet, the space agency tweeted on Wednesday. The location of the impact site is on a region of the Moon called “Sea of Serenity”.

“As soon as its orbit placed NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter over the landing site on April 22, LRO imaged Beresheet’s impact site,” the NASA website said. The image of the crash site was taken 56 miles (or 90 kilometres) away from the surface.

“The cameras captured a dark smudge, about 10 metres wide, that indicates the point of impact,” NASA said in its statement. “The dark tone suggests a surface roughned by the hard landing, which is less reflective than a clean, smooth surface.”

SpaceIL, an Israeli non-profit organisation, had attempted to land a spacecraft on the volcanic field top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the nearside of the Moon on April 11. Israel’s very first privately funded mission to the moon crashed on the Moon’s surface minutes before landing. The primary goal of the spacecraft was to take pictures and conduct experiments.

NASA also said that there was a possibility that the crash had led to the formation of a man-made carter on the Moon, which is too small to show up in photos. “There are many clues that we’re actually looking at a man-made crater instead of a metreoid-caused one,” the space agency said. “This is an important consideration, since the Moon: having no atmosphere is constantly bombarded by space rocks that leave craters.”

During its final moments while descending, the spacecraft suffered several technical issues. Its soft landing was unsuccessful after communications were disrupted with the ground control, the support team had said.

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The spacecraft, named Beresheet was about the size of a washing machine and was built by SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries. Beresheet had travelled around the Earth several times in the past two months before entering the lunar orbit. The spacecraft crashed near the historic Apollo landing sites.

The Beresheet project cost Israel about $100 million (nearly Rs 691 crore). After the carsh, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that they will try again. “We reached the moon, but we want to land more comfortably, and that is for the next time,” he had said.

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