Odysseus lander shown touching down on moon with broken leg in dramatic new pictures

Dramatic new images have been released of the Odysseus spacecraft landing on the moon.

The pictures, along with huge amounts of data, have been downloaded just hours before night falls at the lunar south pole and the lander’s batteries run out of power.

Intuitive Machines, the US company behind the mission, said it will now be possible to reconstruct the landing to understand how Odysseus came to rest on its side.

The company also revealed the lander could be revived in 2-3 weeks’ time when the sun rises again. The big unknown is whether the batteries and electronics can survive temperatures that dip below -200C (-328F).

“There are no eulogies planned. Only celebrations,” company co-founder Steve Altemus told a news conference in Houston, Texas.

The first of the new images, taken as the lander touched down, shows at least one of its legs had been shattered, with rocks and dust being blown away at high speed by the force of the rocket engine.

A second photo shows the lander on its side with the dark elliptical shape of a crater around 500m (1,640ft) away. Scientists believe the crater could be two billion years old.

Telemetry data shows Odysseus originally landed upright, but then toppled over on a slight slope.

In the low lunar gravity, it took around two seconds for it to come to rest, either on its fuel tank or a computer shelf on the outside of its structure.

Intuitive Machines was paid $118m by NASA to take six scientific instruments to the moon.

All have sent back data, despite the lander’s position, and a navigation beacon is now operational that will help future landings.

But the laser navigation system that should have been used for the landing failed because a pin hadn’t been removed on the launch pad in Florida.