A team of scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science and SpaceIL engineers have identified the site for Israel's Beresheet spacecraft's lunar landing. According to a release disseminated by the Weizmann Institute, the chosen site was selected by Prof. Oded Aharonson of the Weizmann Institute and Prof. Jim Head of Brown University. It is located in the northeastern part of Mare Serenitatis, a few hundreds of miles east of the Apollo 15 landing site and a similar distance northwest from the Apollo 17 site.
Three optional landing sites were identified, too.
The terrain in these locations are composed of material characteristic of ancient mare surfaces – large, dark basalt plains resulting from long-ago volcanic eruptions – on which successful landings have been made, explained Weizmann in the release.
The selection criteria for the site focused on ensuring a safe landing, searching for sites with relatively few craters, exposed rocks or steep slopes within the landing area – factors that could jeopardize the touchdown. In addition, the scientists searched for a location on the Moon where the crust is magnetic, so as to allow the magnetometer – the main scientific instrument on board the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft – to carry out its investigations.
The magnetometer was just recently and successfully turned on in space and the data returned to Earth.
The Beresheet spacecraft is currently orbiting Earth and performing maneuvers in preparation for lunar orbit insertion in early April, followed by the planned landing at the chosen site.