This artist illustration shows the Beresheet lunar lander resting on the lunar surface. If successful, the probe will become the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. SpaceIL
This afternoon around 4 or 5 p.m. Central Time, Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft will attempt to soft-land on the moon. If successful, Israel will become the fourth country after the U.S., Russia and China to so. Beresheet, which means genesis, was created and launched by SpaceIL, a non-profit organization that promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education in Israel. It’s funded through philanthropy and the Israel Space Agency.
A heavily cratered part of the moon photographed from orbit. SpaceIL
The spacecraft launched on Feb. 21 and achieved lunar orbit on April 4. Besides its educational goals, the mission is a demonstration of hardware and technology with a little bit of science tossed in. Beresheet (pronounced bear-eh-SHEET) will take photos and measure the moon’s local magnetic field. It also carries along a retroreflector that scientists back on Earth can ping with a laser and determine precise distances to the moon by measuring the amount of time it takes the beam to make the round trip.
This is the time capsule containing examples ...