Incredibly Tough NASA Sensor May Have Survived Moon Lander Crash

Silver Lining

When Beresheet, the lunar built by the Israel-based company SpaceIL, crashed into the , it was carrying more than the hopes and dreams of the first private company to reach the .

It also happened to be shuttling a small piece of NASA equipment. But the device may have the crash, according to a remarkable testament to the hardiness of the space agency’s equipment.

Search and Rescue

In a serendipitous twist, the device called a Lunar Retroreflector Array (LRA) happens to function as a sort of beacon. The spherical gadget, full of cubic quartz mirrors, is meant to help guide spacecraft into precise landings, sort of like the lights illuminating an airport runway. That means that NASA scientists could feasibly go find it in a followup mission.

“Yes, we believe the laser reflector array would have survived the crash, although it may have separated from the main spacecraft body,” MIT scientist David Smith told “Of course, we do not know the orientation of the array. It could be upside down, but it has a 120-degree angle of reception, and we only need 1 of the 0.5-inch cubes for detection. But it has certainly not made it any easier.”

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