Three days to end: The doomed lunar probe will fall to Earth

The Peregrine lunar probe, which was unable to land on the Moon due to a fuel leak, will fall to Earth in the coming days. This is stated in the message of the Astrobotic company.

Image taken by the external camera of the Peregrine probe. In the upper-right corner, you can see the earth’s sickle. Source: Astrobotic

Peregrine was launched on January 8th. It became the first cargo sent into space by the new Vulcan rocket. It was assumed that the spacecraft would land on the Moon in the Sinus Viscositatis area. It carried six NASA cargoes as well as a number of payloads provided by other private customers.

Unfortunately, shortly after the separation of Peregrine from the upper stage, problems began. The spacecraft began to lose fuel. According to experts, it’s all about a faulty valve between the helium and oxidizer tanks. It could not be hermetically sealed during the activation of the propulsion system. As a result, helium increased the pressure in the oxidizer tank, which led to its rupture.

The accident made it impossible for the spacecraft to enter a selenocentric orbit and land on the Moon. To get at least some scientific benefit from the mission, Astrobotic specialists activated some of the instruments installed on board the Peregrine, and they transmitted the response data.

Unfortunately, Peregrine will cease to exist in the coming days. Since the spacecraft failed to perform the necessary maneuver, it remained in the sphere of gravity of the Earth. Calculations show that in the coming days it will begin to approach our planet, and with a very high probability, on January 18, it will enter the earth’s atmosphere. According to preliminary calculations, this will happen in the area of the Great Barrier Reef.

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