Russia’s Luna 25 dented the Moon’s surface at impact site

In a race to accomplish a soft landing on the lunar south pole against India’s Chandrayaan-3 Moon mission, Russia’s spacecraft crash resulted in a crater.
Shubhangi Dua
Russia's Luna 25 moon mission left a crater on the lunar surface
Russia's Luna 25 moon mission left a crater on the lunar surface

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University 

Russia’s Luna 25 Moon mission attempted to reach the south pole of the lunar surface ahead of India but crashed instead on August 19. 

In the country’s first mission in 47 years, the Luna 25 spacecraft, also known as the Luna-Glob-Lander, spun out of control and crashed into the Moon. 

The impact of the crash proved significant, so much so that it left a 33-foot-wide (10-meter-wide) crater on the Moon’s surface, according to images released by NASA yesterday (August 31). 

NASA’s spacecraft – the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), captured the image of the “new crater on the moon’s surface,” which is most likely also the impact site of Russia’s mission. 

'A small crater"

The space agency stated: “During its descent, Luna 25 experienced an anomaly that caused it to impact the surface of the Moon on August 19.”

In a statement on August 21, Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, revealed the impact point. Upon the information, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) observed the area for four hours on August 24 from 2:15 p.m. EDT (18:15 UTC) to 6:12 p.m. EDT (22:12 UTC). 

With the aid of a system of three cameras, LROC’s team compared the images taken prior to the crash to post the impact. They noticed a hole – “a small crater” at the impact spot. 

NASA reported that LRO’s most recent image captured before the crash was in June 2022. The agency stated, “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.”

The new crater is located at 57.865 degrees south latitude and 61.360 degrees east longitude at an elevation of about minus 360 meters, NASA noted. 

“The impact point was on the steep (greater than 20-degree grade) inner rim of Pontécoulant G crater, about 400 kilometers short of Luna 25’s intended landing point at 69.545 degrees south, 43.544 degrees east.”

Investigating the crash causes

According to Reuters, Moscow formed a special inter-departmental commission to investigate the reasons behind the loss of the Luna-25 craft.

The much-talked-about lunar mission, Vikram lander, part of India’s Chandrayaan-3, took off on July 14 ahead of Russia’s Luna 25 launched on August 10. 

Despite the three-week difference, Luna 25 aimed to perform a soft touchdown on the Moon's south pole before the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) first successful lunar lander.

The mission’s goal was to study the composition of the polar regolith and to study the plasma and dust components of the lunar polar exosphere. 

India’s Vikram Lander, knowing the risks, attempted a soft landing on the Moon’s pole and successfully touched down on August 24, making it the first country to ever land on the lunar south pole. 

Prof Martin Barstow, director of strategic partnerships at Space Park Leicester, told The Guardian

“Knowing that it can be done doesn’t make it easy. Landing at the poles is much more difficult than landing at the equator. You’ve got to get into a polar orbit to release the lander and nobody has done that before. The US hasn’t landed anything at the poles on the moon.”

The Chandrayaan-3 rover has begun exploring the Moon’s surface with its laser-induced spectroscope, which recently confirmed the presence of elements including sulfur, aluminum, iron, calcium, chromium, titanium, manganese, oxygen, and silicon.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board