Lunar orbiter spots Israeli lander’s crash site

Beresheet lander crash site
A processed image from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, taken on April 22, highlights the dark smudge and impact halo left behind by the Beresheet lander’s impact (NASA / GSFC / ASU Photo)

The Israeli-built Beresheet moon lander made history when it went into lunar orbitand descended to the surface — and although it didn’t survive its crash landing, it did leave a mark that’s likely to endure for millennia.

Weeks after the April 11 smashup, NASA has released imagery from its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter showing the dark blast site and spray of debris that Beresheet kicked up.

The orbiter was over the horizon when the lander fell to the surface due to a last-minute programming glitch and engine shutdown. But it was in a good position to snap a picture of the crash site on April 22 from a height of 56 miles (90 kilometers).

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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