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Watch Russia's Crashed Luna-25 Punch a New Crater into the Moon's Surface
Don't worry, the Moon can take it.
Wes Anderson’s latest film, Asteroid City (streaming now on Peacock), centers on a fictional play inside of a fictional movie, which takes place in the fictional town of Asteroid City. There, a crater left by a meteor impact draws a curious collection of people including an honest-to-Crom space alien. Wherever you find a new crater, there’s usually a good story to go along with it.
Any residents of the Moon’s South Pole might have had their own cinematic call to adventure on August 19, when the Russian lunar lander Luna-25 unexpectedly crashed during descent.
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Find's Luna-25 Impact Site
The mission would have returned Russia to the Moon for the first time since the original space race. It would also have made them the first to soft land at the Moon’s South Pole, an area of particular interest thanks to stores of frozen water. Instead, their first lunar mission in half a century failed at the finish line when an anomaly sent the craft careening into the Moon at high speed.
Two days after the Russian space agency Roscosmos lost contact with Luna-25, they published an estimated point of impact. NASA scientists on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) team then directed the orbiting craft to snap new images of the area. Then they compared those new images with historical images of the same area.
Right away, they found a fresh crater in approximately at the spot Roscosmos estimated. Estimates put the crater’s diameter at approximately 10 meters across and located roughly 400 kilometers from Luna-25’s planned landing site.
Importantly, the most recent images of the area were more than a year old, taken in June of 2022. With that in mind, all we can know for certain is that something created a new crater between June 2022 and August 24, 2023, when the new images were taken. That said, given the proximity with where we know Luna-25 went down, it’s likely the crater was caused by the crash.
It’s not the result Russia wanted, but every accidental crater is evidence of humanity’s enduring exploratory spirit. As Wayne Gretzky once sort of said, you miss 100% of the future craters you don’t launch, or something.
Catch Asteroid City, streaming now on Peacock!