Before and after shot of the suspected crash site
A few days after the Russian lander Luna-25 crashed, NASA photographed a new crater on the moon and thus the likely crash site. The US space agency has now announced this and published the corresponding image from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the moon for 14 years. Together with a comparison image of the same area from June, it shows that an indentation appeared in the surface of the Pontécoulant G crater, which is likely to be due to Luna-25.
The new crater has a diameter of around 10 m and is around 400 km from the planned landing site of the Russian probe. It was discovered based on the approximate information provided by the Russian space agency Roscosmos about the crash site of the lunar probe. It stands to reason that this is the crash site, but one cannot say this with absolute certainty.
Russia’s failure before India’s success
Luna-25 crashed into the moon on August 19, two days before the planned landing. In preparation for touchdown on the lunar surface, the probe was actually supposed to enter a new orbit of the Earth’s satellite. However, Roscosmos later explained that an “unscheduled situation” arose that made it impossible to carry out the maneuver as planned. The space agency then made it public that the probe had crashed completely after the technical problem. Accordingly, contact with the probe, which weighs 1,800 kg and is equipped with complex technology, was lost and could no longer be restored despite hectic work by the engineers. The crash came just days before the triumphant first landing of a lunar probe from India.
Luna-25 was the first of several lunar missions that Russia is planning and with which the country wants to follow on from the Soviet Luna program. Luna-24 was the last probe in the program to be sent to the moon in 1976. Until the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine began, ESA wanted to contribute several instruments to Luna-25, including a device for taking and analyzing soil samples. Because of the war, ESA ended all cooperation with Russia. The Russian space industry has also been largely isolated since then. Only the operation of the International Space Station ISS continues undamaged – even due to a lack of alternatives. With Luna-25, Russia also wanted to prove that, despite the war against Ukraine and despite the pressure of Western sanctions, the country is capable of achieving top scientific achievements. But that didn’t work.
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