April 9, 2020

26.03.10: Dude, That’s My Rover!

Attention, lunar landing deniers; NASAs Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has a bone to pick with you. The LRO continues to reveal some fairly mind-blowing pics of the Moon up-close. This week saw two uber-cool images which show what a littered place the lunar surface has become. First up is the splat of the Apollo 13 upper stage north of the Mare Cognitum pictured above. Apollo 13 was, of course, the “successful failure” of Hollywood lore. Bright rays and ejecta are apparent, and you can almost picture the booster tail sticking straight out of the lunar regolith like some bad Beastie Boys album cover. Sensors placed 135 km distant by Apollo 12 astronauts registered the impact event.

Second picture of note is the Soviet Lunokhod 2 rover delivered to the Le Monnier crater by Luna 21 in January 1973. The rover traveled 40 kilometers before going silent; tracks on the surface can still be seen. The rover was purchased by video game developer Richard Garriott in 1993 at an auction for $68,500. Garriott is excited to have pictures of his own “private flag on the Moon,” and hopes to go to the lunar surface to greet his robotic possession in person. And hey, with a brand new set of solar batteries, Lunokhod 2 might just roll again…

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