The search is over.
Scientists have discovered the lunar crash site of Israel’s Beresheet space ship after its failed landing on April 11 2019.
An LRO passed overhead 11 days later, allowing LROC to acquire a six-image (three NAC left-right pairs) sequence of the search area, according to NASA, GSFC and Arizona State University.
SpaceIL, an Israeli NGO, was behind the Beresheet spacecraft’s attempted landing on the Moon and while in fact it did land, it hit the surface at a speed of 1,000 meters per second faster than intended due to a failure of the main engine which was to have controlled the impact.
In the photos snapped by LROC, the point of impact is marked by a dark smudge about 10 meters across. There may be a crater but due to the image scale if there is one, it is too small to be seen; the LROC site explanation described it more as a “gouge rather than crater…. The smudge is likely a roughened surface … due to the impact and disintegration of the lander.”
Although not a “successful soft landing” the Beresheet impact provided another example of “small impact events,” the LROC scientists said, noting the crash site was comparable to the two GRAIL and LADEE spacecraft impacts on the Moon in 2012 and 2014 respectively. “The study of these impacts is giving us new insights into how the lunar regolith (soil) evolves over time.”
The scientists were not at all discouraged by the crash. “It is important to remember that Beresheet was the first spacecraft developed and flown by a non-profit entity to orbit the Moon,” they wrote. “And SpaceIL has announced they will be trying again, with Beresheet 2!”
Indeed, Israel’s 2019 Genesis Prize foundation provided a separate grant of $1 million towards the Beresheet 2 project’s next attempted landing on the Moon.