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Luna 3
Luna 3 (click to enlarge)

Luna 3
Date: 4 Oct 1959

Luna 3, an automatic interplanetary station, was the third spacecraft successfully launched to the moon and the first to return images of the lunar far side. The spacecraft returned very indistinct pictures, but, through computer enhancement, a tentative atlas of the lunar farside was produced from the images.

These first views of the lunar far side show mountainous terrain, very different from the near side, and only two dark regions which were named Mare Moscovrae ("Sea of Moscow") and Mare Desiderii ("Sea of Dreams"). (Mare Desiderii was later found to be composed of a smaller mare, Mare Ingenii ("Sea of Ingenuity") and other dark craters.)

Credit: NASA

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Last Updated: 22 Apr 2013