Here’s an interesting footnote from Space.com on the failed Russian attempts to reach to land cosmonauts on the moon in the 1960’s.
A long lost light reflector that was left on the surface of the moon by the former Soviet Union has been rediscovered by a team of American physicists after nearly 40 years using lasers beamed from Earth.
The French-built laser reflector was sent aboard the unmanned Soviet Luna 17 mission, which landed on the moon on Nov. 17, 1970 and released a robotic rover that roamed the lunar surface and carried the sought after laser reflector.
The Soviet lander and its rover, called Lunokhod 1, were last heard from on Sept. 14, 1971.
“No one had seen the reflector since 1971,” said Tom Murphy, an associate professor of physics at the University of California San Diego. Murphy leads a team of scientists in a long-term effort to use laser reflectors to measure the shape of the lunar orbit and look for deviations in Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
“We routinely use the three hardy reflectors placed on the moon by the Apollo 11, 14 and 15 missions, and occasionally the Soviet-landed Lunokhod 2 reflector – though it does not work well enough to use when illuminated by sunlight,” Murphy said. “But we yearned to find Lunokhod 1.”
Murphy and his team occasionally looked for the Lunokhod 1 reflector over the last two years, but had no luck finding it until recently.
[Read more at Space.com]