First Image of the Far Side of the Moon
The Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first views ever of the far side of the Moon. The first image was taken at 03:30 UT on 7 October at a distance of 63,500 km after Luna 3 had passed the Moon and looked back at the sunlit far side. The last image was taken 40 minutes later from 66,700 km. A total of 29 photographs were taken, covering 70% of the far side. The photographs were very noisy and of low resolution, but many features could be recognized.
Date: 7 Oct 1959
This is the first image returned by Luna 3. Taken by the wide-angle lens, it showed the far side of the Moon was very different from the near side, most noticeably in its lack of lunar maria (the dark areas).
The right three-quarters of the disk are the far side. The dark spot at upper right is Mare Moscoviense, the dark area at lower left is Mare Smythii. The small dark circle at lower right with the white dot in the center is the crater Tsiolkovskiy and its central peak.
The Moon is 3475 km in diameter and north is up in this image. (Luna 3-1)
A full gallery of Luna 3 photographs can be found at: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/imgcat/html/mission_page/EM_Luna_3_page1.html
Image Credit: NASA National Space Science Data Center
Credit: NSSDC Photo Gallery