Longjiang-2 Impact Site Found!

LROC NAC image of new crater, likely from Longjiang 2 impact
The Longjiang-2 spacecraft (also known as DSLWP-B) crashed onto the lunar farside on 31 July 2019 after completing its orbital mission. This new crater was most likely the result of that impact. Image width 330 meters, north is up, image enlarged by 4x, LROC NAC M1324916226L (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University).

The Longjiang-2 satellite was launched to the Moon along with the Queqiao communications satellite on 20 May 2018 by the China National Space Agency (CNSA). The small spacecraft (45 kilograms) was designed to work with its twin (Longjiang-1) to validate technologies for low-frequency radio astronomy observations.

A team led by Daniel Estévez estimated that the small spacecraft impacted somewhere within Van Gent crater (16.69°N, 159.52°E). The LROC team used these coordinates to image the area on 5 October 2019 from an altitude of 122 kilometers (M1324916226L). Through a careful comparison of pre-existing NAC images, the LROC team was able to locate a new impact crater (16.6956°N, 159.5170°E, ±10 meters), a distance of only 328 meters from the estimated site! The crater is 4 meters by 5 meters in diameter, with the long axis oriented southwest to northeast. Based on proximity to estimated crash coordinates and the crater size, we are fairly confident that this new crater formed as a result of the Longjiang-2 impact.

Before and after blink of putative Longjiang 2 impact crater
Before and after images of the newly formed crater credited to the impact of Longjiang-2 [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
Topo map centered on new impact crater
The new crater is located on a steep slope, greater than 20°, measured from an LROC NAC Digital Terrain Model [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Read more about the Longjiang-2 spacecraft and its mission.

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Published by Mark Robinson on 14 November 2019