Earth's Moon - Luna 3

First image of the far side of the Moon

Earth's Moon
The Luna 3 spacecraft returned the first views ever of the far side of the Moon. The first image was taken at 03:30 UT on 7 October at a distance of 63,500 km after Luna 3 had passed the Moon and looked back at the sunlit far side. The last image was taken 40 minutes later from 66,700 km. A total of 29 photographs were taken, covering 70% of the far side. The photographs were very noisy and of low resolution, but many features could be recognized. This is the first image returned by Luna 3, taken by the wide-angle lens, it showed the far side of the Moon was very different from the near side, most noticeably in its lack of lunar maria (the dark areas). The right three-quarters of the disk are the far side. The dark spot at upper right is Mare Moscoviense, the dark area at lower left is Mare Smythii. The small dark circle at lower right with the white dot in the center is the crater Tsiolkovskiy and its central peak. The Moon is 3475 km in diameter and north is up in this image. (Luna 3-1)
Larger image:

High resolution tiff file (3.8 Mb)


Location & Time Information
Date/Time (UT): 1959-10-07
Distance/Range (km): N/A
Central Latitude/Longitude (deg): 10.,120.
Orbit(s): Flyby

Imaging Information
Area or Feature Type: crater, maria
Instrument: Yenisey-2 Phototelevision System
Instrument Resolution (pixels): 1000 x 1000
Instrument Field of View (deg): N/A
Filter: N/A
Illumination Incidence Angle (deg): N/A
Phase Angle (deg): N/A
Instrument Look Direction: N/A
Surface Emission Angle (deg): N/A

Ordering Information
CD-ROM Volume: N/A
NASA Image ID number: Luna3_1
Other Image ID number:
NSSDC Data Set ID (Photo): 59-008A-01A
NSSDC Data Set ID (CD): N/A
Other ID: N/A

Updated 24 March 2003, DRW.