Odysseus lunar lander shares new photos from its harrowing descent

Feb 26, 2024, 7:30 PM

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image of the Intuitive Machines Nova-C lander, al...

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this image of the Intuitive Machines Nova-C lander, also called Odysseus, Odie or IM-1, on the moon's surface on February 24. (NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University via CNN Newsource)

(NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University via CNN Newsource)

Originally Published: 26 FEB 24 10:31 ET
Updated: 26 FEB 24 15:38 ET

Editor’s note: Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.

(CNN) — The Odysseus spacecraft has dispatched new images it captured of the lunar surface during the lander’s harrowing approach to the moon. The vehicle softly touched down on the moon on Thursday, becoming the first US-made lander to do so since the Apollo era.

The grainy images were shared by Intuitive Machines, the company that developed Odysseus, on Monday morning. The company had initially projected that the lander could deliver the first images captured from the lunar surface in the hours after landing, but communicating with the spacecraft has proven challenging.

The mission team believes Odysseus tripped on the lunar soil and landed on its side, resting on a rock, which may have left some of the vehicle’s antennas pointed in an inopportune direction, Intuitive Machines revealed Friday.

In its update Monday, the company also said it now expects to lose contact with Odysseus on Tuesday — days earlier than initially hoped.

“Flight controllers intend to collect data until the lander’s solar panels are no longer exposed to light,” the company said in the update posted on the social media platform X. “Based on Earth and Moon positioning, we believe flight controllers will continue to communicate with Odysseus until Tuesday morning.”

At that point, Odysseus will have been operating less than five days on the lunar surface. The company had suggested in previous updates that the lander could function for up to nine days.

What Odysseus’ images reveal

An image released by company Friday showed a view of the moon’s Schomberger crater captured by the spacecraft during its descent.

The images shared Monday give another glimpse at Odysseus’ trip.

“Odysseus captured this image approximately 35 seconds after pitching over during its approach to the landing site,” the company said about the clearer of the two photographs from the spacecraft shared Monday on X.

The spacecraft was expected to “pitch over” — turning itself upright after moving horizontally through space — just before landing.

“The camera is on the starboard aft-side of the lander in this phase,” the Intuitive Machines post noted, referring to the right rear portion of the vehicle.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, which has been circling the moon since 2009, also captured an image of Odysseus’ landing site from afar.

Intuitive Machines shared Odysseus’ precise location: The spacecraft is sitting at the coordinates 80.13°S and 1.44°E on the moon, resting at about 2,579 meters (8,500 feet) in elevation.

The company says the vehicle landed within 1.5 kilometers (5,000 feet) of its intended landing site, “representing the furthest south any vehicle has been able to land on the Moon and establish communication with ground controllers.”

On board Odysseus are six science and tech demonstration payloads from NASA, which the space agency paid Intuitive Machines — via a contract worth up to $118 million — to fly to the lunar surface.

Odysseus also carried a few pieces of cargo from the private sector, including a work of art and a camera, called EagleCam, that was designed to pop off the lander and capture a “selfie” of the spacecraft during its final descent.

EagleCam — which was designed by students at Embry-Riddle University in Florida — was not ejected, however, because of last-minute navigation issues, which required the lander to rely on experimental hardware from NASA.

Teams on the ground are still working through how EagleCam might be deployed now that it’s known that Odysseus is lying on its side.

“Telemetry data confirms that the Embry‑Riddle CubeSat is still fully operational, however, and the team now intends to deploy its camera system to capture imagery of the lander in its current state, offering valuable data that could help Intuitive Machines refine its plans moving forward,” Embry-Riddle said in an update on Sunday.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Science + Technology

Artificial intelligence could be the next tool used in mental health therapy....

Amanda Dickson

Artificial intelligence may be able to help with your mental health

University of Utah researchers are working to understand how artificial intelligence and mental health therapists might work together.

22 hours ago

denver airport, a southwest flight from the airport suffered a mechanical issue...

Pete Muntean and Philip Wang, CNN

Southwest Boeing 737-800 flight from Denver loses engine cover, FAA investigating

Southwest said its maintenance teams would review the aircraft. The flight reached an altitude of about 10,000 feet.

8 days ago

Neuroscientist David Eagleman speaks at the University of Utah's Kingsbury Hall on Tuesday as the k...

Sky Mundell, KSL.COM

Neuroscientist David Eagleman proposes test of intelligence for AI to Utah audience

Eagleman spoke as part of the Natural History Museum's lecture series centered around the nature of intelligence.

8 days ago

a laptop shows openai voice engine blog post...

Clare Duffy, CNN

OpenAI says it’s working on AI that mimics human voices

OpenAI shared samples from early tests of Voice Engine, which uses a 15-second sample of someone speaking to generate a convincing replica of their voice.

15 days ago

Minh Ha, assistive technology manager at the Perkins School for the Blind uses a flashlight to try ...


Blind people can hear and feel April’s total solar eclipse with new technology

While solar eclipse watchers look to the skies, people who are blind or visually impaired will be able to hear and feel the celestial event.

17 days ago

Deer Creek Reservoir in Wasatch County pictured, flooding in utah possible this year...

Adam Small

Utah water managers less worried about spring flooding, but it’s still possible

Flooding in Utah is less of a concern this year because there is so much less water in the snowpack than in 2023.

18 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

Artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Odysseus lunar lander shares new photos from its harrowing descent