Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

January 9, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

Lunokhod: Moon Robot
Credit: Courtesy Lavochkin Association

Explanation: On November 17, 1970 the Soviet Luna 17 spacecraft landed the first roving remote-controlled robot on the Moon. Known as Lunokhod 1, it weighed just under 2,000 pounds and was designed to operate for 90 days while guided in real-time by a five person team at the Deep Space Center near Moscow, USSR, Planet Earth. The futuristic looking eight wheeler rode on top of a descent module which extended ramps from both sides offering alternative routes to the surface in case one side was blocked by boulders. Lunokhod 1 actually toured the lunar Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) for 11 months in one of the greatest successes of the Soviet lunar exploration program. This Lunokhod's operations officially ceased on October 4, 1971, 14 years after the launch of Sputnik.

Tomorrow's picture: Venus' Surface

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.