SpaceIL’s original Beresheet mission to the moon may not have gone as expected, but it still remains a historic one. Before it crashed, Israel’s lunar lander took one last stunning photo of the surface of the moon.
Beresheet’s Last Photo
SpaceIL’s hopes of becoming the fourth nation to place a lander on the moon were crushed when an engine glitch caused Beresheet to crash. On April 17, the non-profit organization released an image that it says was the last photo taken by Beresheet at 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the surface of the moon. In the image one can see the stunning details of the surface of the moon from above.
“I am proud of the team of engineers for their wonderful work and their service,” said Maurice Kahn, chairman of the SpaceIL board, and a major contributor to the project. “What is important now is to produce lessons in the best way, to look at mistakes boldly and to continue forward.”
The Real Last Photo From Beresheet?
That said, according to Israeli diplomat Elad Ratson, the image that SpaceIL released was not the actual last picture taken by Beresheet, but another one that was taken 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) from the surface. In the said photo that was taken from a different angle, the surface of the moon can be seen against the blackness of space.
Got 2ⁿᵈ confirmation from @ILAerospaceIAI. This is the l̲a̲s̲t̲ image #Beresheet sent to earth before it crashed! Telemetry of moment it was taken not available yet, however, image received in mission control when Beresheet was 7.5㎞ above moon surface
https://t.co/Hq9cSgm9JA pic.twitter.com/9UPQ5jeSZv — Elad Ratson (@EladRatson) April 12, 2019
Despite failing to be the fourth nation to successfully place a lander on the moon, the world’s first privately funded moon mission still succeeded in becoming the seventh nation to place a spacecraft in orbit around the moon, and in encouraging young children all over the world to pursue studies in engineering, technology, and science. Furthermore, the mission also advances Israel’s space endeavors.
Moreover, even if the Beresheet crashed, it is believed that the lunar library that contains 100 gigabytes' worth of data about humanity survived, and there is also hope that NASA’s Lunar Retroreflector Array may have survived it as well.
So far, SpaceIL and its partners are already working on planning for Beresheet 2.0 in hopes of still completing the mission in the future.