June 13, 2024

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A NASA spacecraft is monitoring a possible lunar crater caused by the crash of the Russian Luna 25 spacecraft

A NASA spacecraft is monitoring a possible lunar crater caused by the crash of the Russian Luna 25 spacecraft

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A new crater has appeared on the Moon, likely formed when Russia’s uncrewed Luna 25 mission crashed into the lunar surface.

Images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and released by the agency Thursday reveal the new crater.

The Luna 25 spacecraft, Russia’s first lunar lander in 47 years, launched on Aug. 10 and was expected to touch down near the moon’s south pole two weeks later.

But communication with the spacecraft malfunctioned, and the Russian space agency Roscosmos reported an “emergency” as Luna 25 attempted to enter lunar orbit before landing on Aug. 19.

Roscosmos officials later said engine failure was the likely cause of the accident.

The agency shared an estimate of the point of impact on Aug. 21, which allowed members of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team to send commands to the spacecraft the next day to take pictures of the site.

The orbiter took pictures over a four-hour period on August 24, revealing the new crater. The images were compared with those taken at the same location before the accident, taken in June 2022.

The new crater is close to the estimated point of impact, prompting the orbiter team to conclude that it is the possible final resting place for Luna 25, according to NASA launch.

The crater is 32.8 feet (10 meters) wide and 248.5 miles (400 kilometers) from Luna 25’s intended landing target.

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The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the moon since 2009, has been used to monitor and capture impact craters from previous missions that have crashed into the lunar surface, including India’s Chandrayaan-2 in 2019.