Odysseus moon lander tipped over on the lunar surface during landing

The Odysseus moon lander is not standing upright on the lunar surface. Rather, it’s lying down on its side.

The telemetry data of the spacecraft suggests that, due to some software glitch with Odysseus’ internal navigation system, the lander had some horizontal velocity (lateral movements) at the moment of lunar touchdown. As a result, the lander could not keep itself upright.

Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus explains the attitude of Odysseus
Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus explains the attitude of Odysseus, which is lying on its side with its head kept on a rock, like the above picture. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Steve Altemus, CEO of Intuitive Machines, said in a press briefing that during its final descent, the lander was moving at 6 mph (9.7 km/h) in the vertical direction and at 2 mph (3.2 km/h) in the horizontal direction. However, to get an upright position, it was supposed to move at 0 mph in a horizontal direction. 

Not only that, due to the complexity of Odysseus’ internal navigation system, its EagleCam camera, which was supposed to take pictures of the Odysseus lander, was not deployed during the final descent.

Related article: EagleCam captures no photos of Odysseus lander during the moon landing

As the space enthusiastic people are eagerly waiting for the Odysseus picture, the mission control team will try to deploy the EagleCam device to take pictures of the lander, Steve Altemus added.

He also added that Odysseus has softly landed near or at the intended landing site. However, its pinpoint location in the lunar south polar region is still unknown, and we’ll find out when NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) flies over the landing site, likely this weekend.

Currently, most of the payloads that Odysseus lander carried on the lunar surface are operating, and its solar cell batteries are 100% charged.

As the duration of the mission is only 7 days, the team is currently busy taking scientific data.

Odysseus lunar lander captured Schomberger crater on the Moon before landing on February 22 when it was approximately 6 miles (10 km) above the lunar surface and approximately 125 miles (200 km) away from the intended landing site.

Odysseus lander captures Schomberger crater on the lunar surface before landing
Odysseus lander captures Schomberger crater on the lunar surface before landing. (Image credit: Intuitive Machines)
Related article: US private moon lander Odysseus makes historic lunar landing

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Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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