The HAKUTO-R Mission 1 Lunar Lander was launched on 11 December 2022, hoping to become the first privately-funded spacecraft to land and operate on the lunar surface. After a several-month journey to the Moon, the spacecraft started a controlled descent to the surface to land near Atlas crater. Moments before the touchdown on 25 April at 12:40 p.m. EDT, communication with the lander ceased. The ispace team announced the following day that an anomaly occurred, and the HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander did not safely touch down on the surface.
On 26 April 2023, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft acquired ten images around the landing site with the Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs). The images covered a region roughly 40 km by 45 km. Using a NAC image acquired before the landing attempt, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) science team began searching for the lander.
From the temporal image pair, the LROC team identified an unusual surface change near the nominal landing site. The image shows at least four prominent pieces of debris and several small changes (47.581°N, 44.094°E). The central feature in the image above shows several bright pixels in the upper left and serval dark pixels in the lower right. This is the opposite of nearby boulders, suggesting this could be a small crater or different parts of the lander body. This site will be analyzed more over the coming months as LROC has the opportunity to reimage the site under various lighting and viewing geometries.
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