WIde-angle View of the Far Side of the Moon from Luna 3
Date: 7 Oct 1959
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 1959 at a distance of 63,500 km (about 39,457 miles) 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 (about 41,445 miles). 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.
This wide-angle view shows the far side comprising most of the image, with the near side making up about one-quarter of the disk at left. The dark patch in the upper right is Mare Moscoviense and the dark areas below and left of center are Mare Marginus and Mare Smythii. These are on the border between the near and far sides. The small dark circle in the lower right is the crater Tsiolkovskiy. The image is centered at 15 N, 120 E. The moon is 3,475 km (about 2,159) in diameter and north is at 11:30.
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
Credit: NSSDC Photo Gallery