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Moon lander that broke sent back a final poignant image from space

It was its final transmission before powering down.

  • Intuitive Machines’ moon lander, Odysseus, is no more
  • But the broken moon lander beamed back a final photo before losing power
  • And it’s strangely moving

Published on Mar 4, 2024 at 3:25PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Mar 4, 2024 at 9:34PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Alessandro Renesis

Moon lander, Odysseus, is sadly no more after breaking a leg as it landed on the lunar surface.

But, before it lost power the broken moon lander beamed back one final photo.

And its final transmission before shutting down was strangely poignant.

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The transmission from Intuitive Machines’, Odysseus, showed a cratered grey surface spreading to the lunar horizon.

And, upon closer inspection, you can see a distant and shadowed Earth’s crescent near the top, left of center.

The spacecraft was lying on its side on the moon after its leg snapped during landing on 22 February and it toppled.

The robotic craft, which left Earth on 15 February, was then consumed by the freezing, two-week lunar night.

But not before Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus moon lander sent back one final transmission.

Odysseus landed near the lunar south pole.

It’s a region that’s rich for future exploration and thought to be a good spot for future moon bases.

The south pole’s permanently-shadowed craters are believed to preserve pools of frozen water.

This would be an invaluable resource for future lunar missions and exploration beyond.

The Houston-based company, which became the first to land a commercial mission on the moon, made a moving statement on Thursday 29 February.

“Before its power was depleted, Odysseus completed a fitting farewell transmission,” Intuitive Machines posted to X.

“Received today, this image from February 22nd showcases the crescent Earth in the backdrop, a subtle reminder of humanity’s presence in the universe,” it continued.

“Goodnight, Odie. We hope to hear from you again.”

All hope is not entirely lost, it’s hoped that Odysseus may wake up and bounce back in mid-March.

That’s when solar rays will hit the lander’s solar panels.

This recently happened to JAXA, Japan’s space agency, and their moon lander: SLIM.

It landed upside-down back in January but came back from the brink.

However, it’s feared that plummeting temperatures as low as minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit, could damage essential components of the moon lander.

While Odysseus’ landing wasn’t perfect, NASA hailed the challenging touchdown a success.

NASA actually provided $118 million for the mission.

Despite its compromised state, the lander beamed back scientific data from all of NASA’s equipment.

It included research into space weather and interactions between the spacecraft’s plume and the moon’s chalky surface

The mission is part of the space agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, picking companies to deliver NASA missions to the moon.

Already burdened with an ambitious timeline to return astronauts to the moon as part of the Artemis program, this frees NASA from having to plan and fund missions leading up to human landings.

Crewed mission aren’t anticipated before 2026.

NASA made a statement last month.

“This landing marked the United States’ first lunar landing since Apollo 17, as well as the first landing as part of our Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, which aims to expand the lunar economy to support future crewed Artemis missions,” NASA said.

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