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Watch: See first image of moon lander after company abandons the mission
01:18 - Source: CNN

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CNN  — 

Humans landed on the moon during NASA’s Apollo program in the late 1960s and 1970s using computers that had far less processing power than today’s smartphones.

Still, even five decades later, landing on the moon is far from easy.

Several notable missions over the past few years have proven that point: Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the ancient lunar volcanic field called the Sea of Serenity in 2019, and last year, Russia’s Luna-25 mission and a commercial Japanese lander called Hakuto-R both smashed into the moon’s surface. (India, however, celebrated becoming the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon.)

Successful or not, the efforts are part of a new space race in which the push for lunar exploration has taken center stage. Several projects are expected to head toward the moon this year with sights set on a soft landing.

The first to take flight — a commercial mission out of the United States — hasn’t gone as planned.

Explorations

Astrobotic Technology shared the first image of the Peregrine lunar lander in space on Monday. The lander suffered “critical” propellant loss from a fuel leak after liftoff.

Astrobotic Technology, the Pittsburgh-based company that — under a $108 million contract with NASA — developed the first US lunar lander to launch in five decades, has abandoned plans to attempt a soft landing for its Peregrine Mission One on the moon.

The spacecraft successfully lifted off Monday atop a Vulcan Centaur rocket, a new vehicle developed by United Launch Alliance that was on its inaugural flight. Soon after, Peregrine suffered “critical” propellant loss from a fuel leak, which means a controlled moon landing, originally slated for February 23, is off the table, according to Astrobotic.

NASA had hoped that Peregrine 1 would notch an early success for its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, aimed to drive down the cost of building a lunar lander — particularly as the space agency is facing lengthy delays in returning astronauts to the moon.

Discoveries

Northern Europeans are among those most prone to the debilitating autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis, and a new study based on DNA recovered from ancient bones and teeth has offered clues as to why.

A comparison of more than 1,000 ancient genomes, collated as part of a new database, found a link between multiple sclerosis risk and shared ancestry with a Bronze Age group of nomadic herders known as the Yamnaya.

Researchers believe these nomads, who hailed from the central European steppe, move westward and introduced a genetic variant that once offered protection against infectious pathogens carried by domesticated animals but evolved to affect modern disease in a very different way.

Dig this

The location of many caves including two G. blacki bearing caves

What led to the demise of the largest apes that ever lived?

New research published this week has shed more light on the mystery of why Gigantopithecus blacki — a type of primate sometimes called the real King Kong because it stood almost 10 feet (3 meters) tall — disappeared.

Paleontologists analyzed and dated fossils and sediment from the caves whe