In a celestial ballet that unfolded high above, the moon recently witnessed a graceful performance, and NASA‘s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was there to capture the encore. The star of this lunar show was Luna 25, Russia’s mission to the moon, and its landing left a remarkable impression.
Roscosmos, Russia’s esteemed space agency, made an initial estimate of the landing site on August 21. With remarkable precision, the LRO Camera (LROC) team and the LRO Mission Operations team swiftly orchestrated a cosmic choreography. They devised intricate commands and dispatched them to the LRO spacecraft on August 22, culminating in a captivating sequence of images.
The celestial spectacle commenced on August 24, setting the lunar stage at 2:15 p.m. EDT (18:15 UTC) and taking its final bow about four hours later at 6:12 p.m. EDT (22:12 UTC). What emerged from this carefully orchestrated dance was the discovery of a modest, yet unmistakable addition to the moon’s landscape: a small new crater.
This newfound lunar feature, about 10 meters in diameter, is nestled at coordinates 57.865 degrees south latitude and 61.360 degrees east longitude, gracefully tucked at an elevation of approximately minus 360 meters. Its creation was not an act of nature but rather a testament to Luna 25’s mission, for this crater stands in proximity to the mission’s anticipated impact point.
LRO’s photographic journey into this lunar performance was initiated in June 2022, with its most recent “before” image. What it didn’t capture then, it beautifully encapsulated now—a testament to the meticulous precision of space exploration. The LRO team surmises that this lunar addition is more than just a chance encounter; it is likely a result of Luna 25’s touch on the moon’s surface.