SpaceIL landing site and magnetic anomalies

Seen here is the landing site for SpaceIL’s lunar lander Beresheet, in the region of Mare Serenitatis.

SpaceIL Beresheet spacecraft’s landing site in Mare Serenitatis. Credit: LRO, Phil Stooke

Despite its unfortunate crash, Beresheet will go down in history as the first privately funded spacecraft to orbit the Moon. The mission has been nothing short of a monumental achievement not just for Israel, the parent nation, but for the industry as a whole.

Beresheet’s primary scientific instrument, the SpaceIL Magnetometer (SILMAG), was supposed to measure the magnetic field strength in the landing region, starting from the descent phase all the way to the landing itself. The landing site is special in the sense that it has an anomalously strong magnetic field, known from prior observations, including Lunar Prospector. It is one of the few lunar regions that retained a local magnetic field to date, after the Moon lost it’s global magnetic field early on in its life.

While the landing didn’t pan out, it seems some measurements were made during the descent, which is great news. Landing in regions of anomalous magnetic fields like the Beresheet landing site, or the previously covered Reiner Gamma, is key to unlocking the magnetic past and evolution of the Moon. Here’s to Beresheet 2.0!

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