Advertisement

Dramatic new photos show Odysseus Moon lander on its side with snapped leg

One of the Odysseus lander's legs broke upon landing (via REUTERS)
One of the Odysseus lander's legs broke upon landing (via REUTERS)

A stunning photo taken of the first privately owned spacecraft to land on the Moon shows it with a snapped leg after touching down on the lunar surface.

The Odysseus Moon mission was cut short this week after a “tumble” caused the lunar lander to tilt sideways.

Space engineers had suggested the lunar probe stopped working after it landed too quickly and fell over near the Moon’s south pole last Thursday.

The privately built, unmanned craft has already sent images from farther south on the Moon than any previous lunar lander.

Intuitive Machines, the US company behind the mission, has now released a photo of the craft landing sideways on the moon.

The photos and extensive data were downloaded just before nightfall at the lunar south pole, as the lander's batteries neared depletion.

The Odysseus lander on its side with a crater around 500m away (via REUTERS)
The Odysseus lander on its side with a crater around 500m away (via REUTERS)

Intuitive Machines says that reconstructing the landing to find out how Odysseus ended up on its side is now possible.

The company also shared that the lander might wake up in two or three weeks when the sun returns. The major question is if its batteries and electronics can withstand temperatures below -200C (-328F).

The first new photo, snapped right when the lander hit the moon, reveals that at least one leg broke apart, with rocks and dust scattering from the rocket engine's blast.

Another shot captures the lander tipped over, with a dark crater about 500m away that scientists think might be two billion years old.

Telemetry data indicates Odysseus first touched down upright but later fell on a gentle slope.

Due to the moon's low gravity, it settled in about two seconds, landing on its fuel tank or an external computer shelf.

Intuitive Machines received $118m (£94m) from NASA to deliver six scientific tools to the moon. All the instruments worked and sent back data, even with the lander tipped over, and there's now a working navigation beacon to aid future moon landings.