January 14, 2015

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First and Last

Originally published January 14, 2004


Image Credit:



First and Last

In 1959 the Soviet probe Luna 3 swept behind the Moon and took the first photograph (left) of the lunar farside (in fact, the first picture EVER of any extraterrestrial planetary body from space). And the most recent image of the lunar farside is this (right) mosaic of Clementine frames acquired in 1994. Other than some Apollo and Lunar Orbiter photos, the farside, almost as alien as a tenth planet, remains little imaged and little studied. The extensive areas of brightness across the Luna picture demonstrate that the farside has far less maria (dark) than the lunar nearside. The patches of darkness at the lower left of the the Luna image are the mostly frontside maria Crisium, Marginis, Smythii and Fecunditatis - none of which show up on the Clementine mosaic. The isolated dark patch in the upper right of the Luna view is Mare Moscoviense - also seen left of center on the right image. The small black spot with a white dot in the center is Tsiolkovskiy. And finally, the largest, mottled dark area bottom center-right on the Clementine image is the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

Related Links:
Luna 3

Yesterday's LPOD: Apollo 15 Panned

Tomorrow's LPOD: Gassendi Compared

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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