The Lunascan Project Moon Shot Series
October 7, 1959


"On 7 October 1959, the Soviets obtained humankind's first view of the lunar far side. The Automatic Interplanetary Station Luna 3 returned a full face image that was good enough to show major contrasts in brightness (albedo). There were clearly far fewer maria than on the near side, as had been predicted by Nathaniel Shaler from his observation that the Moon's edges (limbs) have relatively few maria. 

However, Mare Moscoviense was there, and a large mare filled crater that stood out like a sore thumb amidst a crowd of ordinary craters was given the worthy name Tsiolkovskiy.

Luna 3 also revealed long bright streaks that the Soviets called the Soviet Mountains and that Russian geologist A.V. Khabakov a believer in the importance of lineaments, claimed are parallel to major faults on the near side. Ewen Whitaker, however, pointed out the embarrassing fact that the "mountains" are coalescing rays of two young craters and therefore are quite flat. Incidentally, Patrick Moore, the British lunar enthusiast and popularizer of astronomy, has stated that the charts the Soviets used for the Luna 3 flight were the detailed but very unrealistic ("unrealistic" is my observation, not Moore's) line drawings laboriously prepared over decades by British amateur Percy Wilkins. New charts were obviously needed." - Don E. Wilhelms, To A Rocky Moon, 36

Image of Far Side
Larger version of Luna3.jpg

The image at the upper right is the first image of the far side of the Moon, taken by the Luna 3 spacecraft in October, 1959.

In a book translated into English from an original version published by the official Novosti Press Agency, Moscow) it states  on page 154:

"At 1730 hours on 5 October [1959] it passed within 70,000 kilometers of the moon's surface and continued along its planned trajectory around the moon.  At 0630 hours on 7 October, after reaching a point from some 65,000 to 68,000 kilometers distant from the lunar surface, the probe began to photograph the dark side [sic] of the moon.  The photographing of this formerly mysterious dark side of the moon went on for forty minutes...The film was automatically developed on Luna-3, and the onboard photo television scanners transmitted the photographs to earth when Luna-3 was some 40,000 kilometers distant from it." - Evgeny Riabchikov (RUSSIANS IN SPACE, Doubleday, 1971

Other Lunar Orbiter Views
None available

Relevant Sites
 NSSDC Master Catalog Spacecraft Luna 3

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