Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera

Impact Site of the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander

HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Impact Site
HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander impact site, as seen by LROC the day after the attempted landing. LROC NAC image M1437131607R [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].


The HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander was launched on 11 December 2022, hoping to become the first privately-funded spacecraft to land and operate on the lunar surface. After a several-month journey to the Moon, the spacecraft started a controlled descent to the surface to land near Atlas crater. Moments before the touchdown on 25 April at 12:40 p.m. EDT, communication with the lander ceased. The ispace team announced the following day that an anomaly occurred, and the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander did not safely touch down on the surface. 

Mosaic of iSpace Impact Site
LROC NAC mosaic of the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander impact site made from five NAC image pairs: M1437138630L/R, 1437131607L/R, M1437124584L/R, 1437117561L/R, M1437110537L/R. The blue cross marks the impact site [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

On 26 April 2023, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft acquired ten images around the landing site with the Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs). The images covered a region roughly 40 km by 45 km. Using a NAC image acquired before the landing attempt, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) science team began searching for the lander. 

Animated gif of the impact site
Before (M192675639R) and after (M1437131607R) comparison of the impact site. Arrow A points to a prominent surface change with higher reflectance in the upper left and lower reflectance in the lower right (opposite of nearby surface rocks along the right side of the frame). Arrows B-D point to other changes around the impact site [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

From the temporal image pair, the LROC team identified an unusual surface change near the nominal landing site. The image shows at least four prominent pieces of debris and several small changes (47.581°N, 44.094°E).  The central feature in the image above shows several bright pixels in the upper left and serval dark pixels in the lower right.  This is the opposite of nearby boulders, suggesting this could be a small crater or different parts of the lander body. 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. 

Animation of the impact site without labels
Before (M192675639R) and after (M1437131607R) comparison of the impact site without annotations [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Ratio image of the impact site
Ratio image created by dividing the after (M1437131607R)  and before (M192675639R) images. The impact created an area of higher reflectance, approximately 60-80 m across [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

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