NASA Lunar Orbiter Spots Soviet-era Moon Landers

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The main camera onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has captured images of landers and rovers the former Soviet Union sent to the Moon in the 1970s.

Newly release images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera show the Luna 20 and Luna 24 landers launched in 1972 and 1976, respectively, to return samples from the Moon.

A pair of Soviet lunar rovers, called Lunokhods, can also be seen in the LRO images. The eight-wheeled rovers, launched in the early 1970s, were driven by solar power during the day and at night would rely on thermal energy from polonium-210 radioisotope heaters to survive the lunar cold.