LRO imagery shows impact site for China’s mini-satellite.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

China’s Longjiang-2 spacecraft (also known as DSLWP-B) crashed onto the lunar farside on July 31, 2019 after completing its orbital mission. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has spotted the apparent impact site.

China’s micro lunar orbiter — Longjiang-2 (also known as DSLWP-B).
Credit: Harbin Institute of Technology 

The Longjiang-2 satellite was launched to the Moon along with the Queqiao relay communications satellite on May 20, 2018 by the China National Space Agency (CNSA). The small spacecraft – weighing nearly 100 pounds (45 kilograms) — was designed to work with its twin (Longjiang-1) to validate technologies for low-frequency radio astronomy observations.

Impact result

According to Mark Robinson, leader of the LRO Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) at Arizona State University, a new lunar crater has been identified and most likely the result of that impact.

In a posting, Robinson saluted the team led by amateur radio operator, Daniel Estévez of Tres Cantos, Spain, that estimated the small spacecraft impacted somewhere within Van Gent crater (16.69°N, 159.52°E).

Careful comparison

The LROC team used these coordinates to image the area on October 5, 2019. Through a careful comparison of pre-existing LROC Narrow Angle Camera (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 new impact crater is located on a steep slope, greater than 20°, measured from an LROC NAC Digital Terrain Model.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The crater is 13 feet (4 meters) by 16 feet (5 meters) in diameter, with the long axis oriented southwest to northeast.

Based on proximity to the estimated crash coordinates and the crater size, “we are fairly confident that this new crater formed as a result of the Longjiang-2 impact,” Robinson notes.

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