The Lunascan Project Moon Shot Series
September 17, 1970

First robot probe to return samples of the lunar surface to Earth

NW portion of Rukl Section 49

The Russian lunar probe Luna 16 landed in the NW corner of Section 49 in Mare Fecunditatis. The landing site is about 200 km north of the crater Langrenus (not shown in the chart above).

Image of Langrenus and region by Richarde.

Luna 16 was the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample to Earth and represented the first lunar sample return mission by the Soviet Union and the third overall, following the Apollo 11 and 12 missions. The spacecraft consisted of two attached stages, an ascent stage mounted on top of a descent stage. The descent stage was a cylindrical body with four protruding landing legs, fuel tanks, a landing radar, and a dual descent engine complex. A main descent engine was used to slow the craft until it reached a cutoff point which was determined by the onboard computer based on altitude and velocity. After cutoff a bank of lower thrust jets was used for the final landing. The descent stage also acted as a launch pad for the ascent stage. The ascent stage was a smaller cylinder with a rounded top. It carried a cylindrical hermetically sealed soil sample container inside a re-entry capsule. The spacecraft descent stage was equipped with a television camera, radiation and temperature monitors, telecommunications equipment, and an extendable arm with a drilling rig for the collection of a lunar soil sample.  
.Relevant Sites
The Luna 16 Spacecraft
Other Lunar Orbiter Views
None available

For the latest information and images regarding the area were this
spacecraft landed, go to:
 Section 49 

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