NASA Finds Japan's Moon Lander—and Its Dent

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter snaps photos of impact site in Atlas crater
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 11:15 AM CDT

The Japanese spacecraft that crashed on the moon earlier this year left a scar that's reportedly at least 200 feet across. Scientists used NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to zoom in on the site where ispace's Hakuto-R lunar lander crash-landed in the Atlas crater after its rocket engines ran out of fuel. The telescope snapped 10 images covering an area roughly 25 miles by 28 miles on April 26, a day after the attempted landing, and they show clear differences in the lunar surface when compared with images taken beforehand—specifically, "at least four prominent pieces of debris and several small changes," according to the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) team.

The team believes "point A" represents the impact area, some 200 to 260 feet across, per Quartz. It "shows several bright pixels in the upper left and several dark pixels in the lower right. This is the opposite of nearby boulders, suggesting that this could be a small crater or different parts of the lander body," according to the statement. The nearby points B, C, and D represent surface changes "that could be caused by debris tossed up after the crash," per Quartz. "This site will be analyzed more over the coming months as LROC has the opportunity to reimage the site under various lighting and viewing geometries," the team says. Though ispace failed to become the first private business to place a lander on the moon, it plans to try again in 2024 and 2025, per (More moon stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.