“Think gouge rather than crater.”
That’s the verdict of scientists analyzing the first images of the crash site of the failed Israeli moon probe, which the American Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft made in April and published last week.
The picture shows a white smudge radiating off to the bottom left of the image — that’s southward. There’s a dark splotch in its center, about 10 meters in diameter. Beresheet crashed after the rocket slowing its descent failed. Most of its velocity was horizontal relative to the moon — it crashed at a 10 degree angle.
“While not a successful soft landing, the Beresheet impact provides another example of small impact events,” scientists reported on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s website. “The study of these impacts is giving us new insights into how the lunar regolith (soil) evolves over time.”