The Odysseus Moon Lander Sent One Final Photo Before Its Power Ran Out

The Odysseus Moon Lander Sent One Final Photo

As it used the last of its power reserves, the Intuitive Machines Odysseus Moon lander captured one final photo before shutting down.

The Odysseus lander, sent to the moon by space exploration company Intuitive Machines on February 22, was the first lunar landing by the United States in over 50 years — the last was Apollo 17. It also became the first commercial-sector company and NASA CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) provider to successfully land and transmit scientific data to and from the Moon.

And while it landed less than one mile from its target location, another impressive feat, it didn’t land cleanly — it landed on its side. As such, communication and power generation was inhibited.

Lunar nighttime was scheduled to set in last Thursday and as sunlight was unable to reach the solar panels, Odysseus’s final moments were inevitable. It didn’t go gentle into that good night, however, and the lander, affentionately referred to as “Odie” by Intuitive Machines, beamed back a final image before shutting down.

“Before its power was depleted, Odysseus completed a fitting farewell transmission,” Intuitive Machines says. “Received today, this image from February 22nd showcases the lunar vista with the crescent Earth in the backdrop, a subtle reminder of humanity’s presence in the universe. Goodnight, Odie. We hope to hear from you again.”

The above final photo caps the lander’s series of gorgeous shots it captured on route to its historic landing on the Moon.

“Out of all the images collected, Intuitive Machines chose to show humanity’s place in the Universe with four wonderful images we hope to inspire the next generation of risk-takers,” the company said as the lander approached Earth’s largest satellite last month.

Odysseus’s mission to the Moon was performed under a $118 million contract with NASA in exchange for delivering half a dozen scientific and technological payloads to the moon.

The less than perfect landing was, unfortunately, not unanticipated. Landing on the moon is exceedingly difficult due to the extreme conditions — there was always a high probability that something would go wrong.

In late January, Japan sent a spacecraft on the moon, becoming only the fifth country to do so, but also was unable to land it cleanly — it landed upside down.

Image credits: Intuitive Machines