NASA Photo Shows A Massive 33-Foot Crater At Crash Site Of Russia's Failed Moon Mission

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NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has captured photos of the likely crash site of Roscosmos' failed Luna-25 moon lander mission, some 250 miles off course.

There was a lot riding on the back of Luna-25 when it was launched on August 10, Roscosmos' (Russia's space agency's) first moon probe mission in almost fifty years. It was intended to land at the south pole of the moon on the morning of August 21, but an erroneous orbital maneuver sadly sent the lunar lander crashing on August 19. The mission was to have been the spiritual successor to the Luna-24. Back in 1976, Luna-24 was the USSR's pride and joy—landing on the Moon's Sea of Crises and delivering a sample back to earth.

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Luna-25's crash site (Image credit: NASA)

With information provided by Roscosmos, NASA's LRO close-lunar orbit probe was sent to hunt for the Russian craft's potential crash site. After capturing images of the site with its onboard camera suite, then comparing it with the most recent images of the same area, NASA saw a fresh crater that was likely caused by Luna-25. The LRO announcement says that "it is likely to be from that mission, rather than a natural impactor."

The crash crater is about 33 feet in diameter and is located at 58 degrees south latitude and 61 degrees east longitude, at an elevation of minus 1181 ft. This final resting place puts the lander some 250 miles short of its intended landing site. The probe was expected to spend an Earth year searching for ice and other investigations.

Maybe it was fate, maybe it was coincidence then that India's Chandrayaan-3 carried its countries hopes to the south pole of the moon with a successful touchdown of the craft on August 23. With the perfect landing, India became the first probe to land near the lunar south pole, while being the fourth nation to land on the moon, behind the United States, the former Soviet Union, and China.