Monday, April 29, 2013

Scientists Bounce Laser Beams Off Lunokhod 1: Old Soviet Moon Rover

Laser beams shot to the moon from Grasse (MéO) station in Calern, France successfully targeted the reflector on the Soviet Union's old Lunokhod 1 rover, which trekked across the moon's landscape more than four decades ago.

Lunokhod 1 was the first remote-controlled rover ever to land on another celestial body. The wheeled vehicle was carried to the lunar surface by a spacecraft called Luna 17, touching down in the Sea of Rains on Nov. 17, 1970.

Among its instruments, the rover toted a French-built laser retroreflector consisting of 14 corner cubes that can reflect laser light beamed from Earth.

Attempts to contact the rover after the lunar night that began on Sept. 14, 1971, were unsuccessful, apparently due to a component failure on the rover.

Lunokhod 1's days of rambling around the moon formally ended on Oct. 4, 1971, after 11 lunar day-night cycles (322 Earth days).

Read the full paper here: Laser Ranging to the Lost Lunokhod-1 Reflector:

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