Luna 16

Soviet Luna 16 descent stage -- the first successful robotic lunar sample return spacecraft (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University).

Luna 16 was the first robotic mission to land on the Moon and return a sample to the Earth. It was launched by the Soviet Union on 12 September 1970; landed on the Moon on 20 September; lifted off on 21 September and returned to the Earth on 24 September. The lunar landing occurred on the basaltic plains of Mare Fecunditatis; about 101 grams (3.5 ounces) of lunar material were returned. Sampling operations were conducted entirely in the dark since the Sun had already set when Luna 16 touched down.

Explore an LROC NAC image of Luna 16 M106511834L!

LROC NAC Images of Luna 20, 23, and 24 can be found here.

Published by Mark Robinson on 25 March 2010