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Luna 3
Luna 3 Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals:Luna 3's goal was to take the first photographs of the far side of the moon, a region never seen by human eyes. It also carried micrometeroid and cosmic ray detectors.

Accomplishments:Although the spacecraft suffered heating and communication problems, it took 29 photographs of the far side of the moon with wide angle and telephoto lenses. The spacecraft developed the film and then beamed the images back to Earth, providing humanity with its first grainy views of the far side of the moon. The photos showed far fewer signs of volcanic plains on the far side, prompting scientists to revise their theories of lunar evolution.


Key Dates
4 Oct 1959:  Launch
7 Oct 1959:  First Lunar Photographs Taken
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Luna 3 Facts Seventeen of Luna 3's 29 images were usable.

Luna 3's images covered 70 percent of surface of the lunar far side. They were used to create the first rudimentary atlas.

The images prompted scientists to revise their theories of lunar evolution.

Seventeen of Luna 3's 29 photos of the far side of the moon (right) were usable.

The photos were developed, fixed and dried on the spacecraft and beamed back to Earth.

The moon takes about 29 days to orbit the Earth, roughly the same amount of time to make one rotation on its axis. That is why we always see the same side of the moon from Earth.
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Last Updated: 22 Jan 2013