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NASA orbiter spots likely crash crater from Russian craft

A new crater has appeared on the moon, and it was likely created when Russia’s uncrewed Luna 25 mission crashed into the lunar surface.

Images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and released by the agency on Thursday reveal the fresh crater.

The Luna 25 spacecraft, Russia’s first lunar lander in 47 years, launched on August 10 and was expected to land near the lunar south pole a couple of weeks later.

But communication with the spacecraft was disrupted and Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, reported an “emergency situation” occurred while Luna 25 tried to enter a pre-landing lunar orbit on August 19.

Officials at Roscosmos later said engine failure was the likely cause of the crash.

The agency shared an estimate of the impact point on August 21, which allowed members of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team to send commands to the spacecraft the following day to take images of the site.

The orbiter took images during a four-hour period on August 24, revealing the new crater. The photos were compared with those captured of the same site before the crash, taken in June 2022.

The new crater is close to the estimated impact point, leading the orbiter team to conclude it’s the likely final resting spot of Luna 25, according to a NASA release.

The crater measures 32.8 feet (10 meters) across and was 248.5 miles (400 kilometers) short of Luna 25’s intended landing target.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has circled the moon since 2009, has been used to spot and take images of impact craters created by previous missions that have crashed into the lunar surface, including India’s Chandrayaan-2 in 2019.