NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has spotted the likely remains of Russia's crash-landed Luna-25 lander on the surface below.
The images show disturbances in the cratered surface that were not present in shots of the same site back in 2020. LRO scientists used estimates from Russian space corporation Roscosmos to pinpoint the impact site.
"Since this new crater is close to the Luna-25 estimated impact point, the LRO team concludes it is likely to be from that mission, rather than a natural impactor," a NASA statement reads.
The discovery is yet another reminder of how difficult it is to send a spacecraft to lunar orbit, let alone successfully complete a soft landing on the desolate space rock.
It's far from the first lunar lander remains that the space agency's LRO has discovered. Back in 2019, it spotted the impact site of Israel's Beresheet spacecraft, which also failed to stick the landing. Later that year, it found the debris field of India's Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander. Finally, the orbiter took close-up images showing the remains of Japanese company ispace's HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander back in May of this year.
However, India's followup attempt, which followed close on the heels of Russia's botched landing, turned out to be a huge success, with the country's tiny rover setting off to probe the lunar south pole for evidence of water ice last week.
Will India's success break the streak of international failure? While Russia is already planning to land another lander on the Moon, it's far from the only nation trying to join the exclusive club of countries that have successfully landed on the Moon: Japan's space agency JAXA is also gearing up to launch its own lunar mission, which scheduled to take off sometime this month.
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