The Lunascan Project Moon Shot Series
September 14, 1959


"...two minutes and 24 seconds after midnight Moscow time on 14 September 1959, the end of the long era when knowledge about the Moon which came from quiet nights at the telescope, was heralded by the crash of the Soviet spacecraft Luna 2 onto the rim of the crater Autolycus.  Scientifically, Luna 2 ("Lunik" 2)  did little more than reach its target and show that the Moon possessed little or no magnetic field or radiation. (25) However, it initiated the era of direct contact that would be necessary for learning the composition and age of the lunar surface rocks. In the same month, the United States lost another Pioneer on the test pad."  - Don E. Wilhelms, To A Rocky Moon, 36


Cropped Lunar Orbiter image
  Full frame of LO4-110H1 above

Autolycus is the 39 km crater in the lower right.  The crater Archimedes can be seen partially at lower left. The eastern edge of Mare Imbrium is one of the most interesting parts of the lunar surface.  The group of these three craters, which includes Aristillus to the north, are suitable objects for telescopic observation. Luna 2 crash landed close to the crater Autolycus. Aristillus is a ray crater (55 km/3650 m), with a group of three peaks on the floor (900 m). Autolycus is (39 km/3430 m).

Southern portion of Section 12


The crash site of the Russian probe Luna 2 is just about 30 km from Autolycus' 7 o'clock position.
Other Lunar Orbiter Views

For the latest information and images regarding the area were this
spacecraft landed, go to:
  Section Directory 12 

NASA Apollo images of Luna 2 site
Apollo 15 (AS15_m_1541) Oblique view. Similar to Rukl Atlas, north is "up". Autolycus is to the big crater Archimedes' right. Crash site of Luna 2 would be at its 8 o'clock position.
Apollo 15 (AS15_10075716) Image of Aristillus, 8/25/71. View of Hadley - Apennine area, looking north, photographed by Apollo 15: An oblique view of the Hadley-Apennine area, looking north, as photographed by the Fairchild metric camera in the SIM bay of the Apollo 15 Command/Service Module in lunar orbit. Hadley Rille meanders through the lower center of the picture. The Apennine Mountains are at lower right. The Apollo 15 Lunar Module touchdown point is on the east side of the "chicken beak" of Hadley Rille. The Caucasus Mountains are at upper right. The dark mare area at the extreme upper right is a portion of the Sea of Serenity. The  Marsh of Decay is at lower left. The large crater near the horizon is Aristillus, which is about 55 kilometers (34.18 statute miles) in diameter. The crater just to the south of Aristillus is Autolycus, which is about 40 kilometers (35 statute miles) in diameter. The crater Cassini is barely visible on the horizon at upper right.

Relevant Sites
Luna 2 The Spacecraft

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