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  • Denis Pepin

Odysseus Lunar Lander Faces Early Shutdown Due to Tilted Position

Updated: Mar 31

A tilted lunar lander on the moon with Earth in the background.
The Odysseus lunar lander, a joint project between NASA and the European Space Agency, was supposed to explore the moon’s south pole and collect samples for four weeks. However, due to a malfunction during the landing, the lander ended up in a tilted position, exposing its delicate instruments to the harsh lunar environment. The mission team is now working to salvage as much data as possible before the lander runs out of power and shuts down. (CyberNesco)

The historic first private lunar lander, the Odysseus, is expected to run out of power and shut down by Tuesday morning, according to officials with Intuitive Machines. This is several days earlier than the previously anticipated week of operation.

The Odysseus successfully landed on the lunar south pole on February 22nd, marking the first US spacecraft to touch the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972. However, a malfunction during descent caused the lander to tip over on its side. While the lander remains stable and able to communicate, this unexpected position significantly impacts its ability to generate power and transmit data.

The primary issue lies with the lander's solar panels, which are not receiving optimal sunlight due to the tilt. This limited power generation will not be sufficient to sustain the lander through the upcoming lunar night, which begins on Tuesday morning. As the lander wasn't designed to survive the frigid lunar night without power, it may not be able to reboot when sunlight returns.

Despite the setback, the mission has still achieved significant milestones. The team successfully sent back stunning images of Earth and conducted various scientific experiments. The early shutdown, however, highlights the challenges and complexities of space exploration, where even minor deviations can have significant consequences.


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