Former Soviet Union’s historic Luna 9 lander that in 1966 relayed the first images from the Moon’s bleak surface. Credit: S.P. Korolev RSC “Energia”

Former Soviet Union’s historic Luna 9 lander that in 1966 relayed the first images from the Moon’s bleak surface.
Credit: S.P. Korolev RSC “Energia”

Earth’s crater-dotted moon is a graveyard of space probes, hurled there by a number of nations. The search is on for pinpointing the whereabouts of the former Soviet Union’s Luna 9 probe. It was the first survivable landing of a human-made object on another celestial body.

The USSR’s Luna 9 made it to the moon on February 3, 1966. The lander was spherical in shape, less than 2-feet (0.6 meters) in diameter, and weighed around 220 pounds (100 kilograms).

Once coming to full-stop, the vehicle cranked out the first images taken from the moon’s bleak landscape. When pieced together, those pictures offered a panoramic view of the moon’s terrain and the horizon less than a mile away.

On the lunar lookout. Jeff Plescia of The Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory is sifting through Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imagery to pinpoint the former Soviet Union's Luna 9 spacecraft. Credit: Jeff Plescia/APL

On the lunar lookout. Jeff Plescia of The Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory is sifting through Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imagery to pinpoint the former Soviet Union’s Luna 9 spacecraft.
Credit: Jeff Plescia/APL

Decades later, and thanks to the sharp-eyed NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) now circling the moon, researchers are trying to locate the true, final resting location of the historic Luna 9.

For more details, go to my new Space.com story at:

Long-Lost Lander: Researchers Hunting for Soviet Moon Probe Luna 9

By Leonard David, Space.com’s Space Insider Columnist   |

November 30, 2015 07:00am ET

http://www.space.com/31213-luna-9-soviet-moon-probe-search.html

 

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