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Solar System Exploration
Luna 16
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Luna 16
Luna 16 Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: The Luna 16 lander was to drill out a sample core from the Moon's surface and return it to Earth.

Accomplishments: This was the first successful Soviet sample return, and the first fully robotic sample return of any nation. The Luna 16 lander drilled to a depth of 35 mm before hitting rock, withdrew the core sample and sealed it in a small spherical capsule for return to Earth. The capsule, containing more than 100 grams of lunar soil, landed safely in Kazakhstan 12 days after the initial launch from Earth. The dark, powdery basalt material was found to be very similar to that obtained from another mare site by Apollo 12. It differed slightly from Apollo 11's samples in the levels of titanium and zirconium oxide.

Key Dates
12 Sep 1970:  Launch
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Luna 16 Facts This was the first fully robotic sample return from the surface of another world.

It was the Soviet Union's first successful sample return mission (following two sample return missions by America's Apollo 11 and Apollo 12).

The Soviets exchanged 3 grams of their lunar sample from Luna 16 for 3 grams each of the samples collected by Apollo 11 and 12.
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Last Updated: 24 Jan 2011