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A Lunar Lander Sent a Spectacular Last Photo Before Crashing Into the Moon

Israel’s Beresheet moon lander may have crashed during its attempt to touch down on the moon, but not before it snapped an epic close up shot of our planet’s natural satellite. The privately funded spacecraft managed to fire off a photo of a...

Israel’s Beresheet moon lander may have crashed during its attempt to touch down on the moon, but not before it snapped an epic close up shot of our planet’s natural satellite. The privately funded spacecraft managed to fire off a photo of a patch of lunar ground in its final moments -- released by the nonprofit organization SpaceIL -- and it’s stunning. You know what they say in the space biz, pics or it didn’t happen. Right?

The photo shows a portion of the moon covered in craters. As a report by Space.com explains, the surface appears “battered,” though it’s admittedly hard to tell if you don’t know what you’re looking for. The photographed section of the moon is where the Israeli spacecraft will stay following its untimely crash on April 11. Beresheet’s moon photo is the last it took before its demise, SpaceIL representatives said in a message posted with the picture.

Although it’s the final photo the moon lander took, it’s not the only one Beresheet sent back to astronomers waiting back on Earth. Another picture taken by the craft earlier in its mission shows a portion of the moon against the blackness of space. Israeli diplomat Elad Ratson said that particular photo was taken when Beresheet was about 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) above the surface of the moon.

Beresheet launched to Earth orbit after hitching a ride on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 21. It spent the next six weeks performing maneuvers called engine burns to get closer to the moon. On April 4, it finally entered the moon’s orbit, making Israel one of seven nations to put any sort of spacecraft that close to the moon. On April 11, however, Beresheet crashed. An investigation launched by SpaceIL after the incident found that a malfunction in one of the moon lander’s inertial measurement units led to a series of events that turned off the spacecraft’s main engine during its landing, The Jerusalem Postreported.

Only three nations (the former Soviet Union, the United States, and China) have managed to pull of soft touch downs on the moon. Those efforts, according to Space.com, were all government funded, while Beresheet was a private spacecraft.

This mission may have been unsuccessful in terms of landing on the moon, but SpaceIL hasn’t given up on its lunar dreams. The organization, along with Israel Aerospace Industries, have already started drafting up plans for a Beresheet 2.0 mission.

At the very least, space nerds back on Earth can expect more dazzling photos from the moon, which is almost as cool as actually landing on it.


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Caitlyn Hitt is Daria IRL. Don't take our word for it -- find her on Twitter @nyltiaccc.