A Canadian lunar expert has discovered the whereabouts of the long-lost lunar rover Lunokhod-2.
It was sent up to the Moon in January 1973 by the then Soviet Union, and landed at the Monnier crater disappearing after covering 35km (21miles) and sending back images of moon rocks and craters.
Lunokhod 2 carried an X-ray telescope, a soil-analysis spectrometer labelled Rifma (rhyme) and a French-built laser reflector identical to that carried by Lunokhod 1.
Flight wrote that the rover had “ceased operations” in June 1973.
“A statement issued on June 3 said that the “scientific and technical research programme conducted with the use of the Soviet Moon vehicle, Lunokhod 2, has now been completed.”
No reference was made to any failure in what would appear to be a premature shutdown compared with the mission of the first Lunokhod, which lasted 11 months.”
Canadian lunar expert Phil Stooke at the University of Western Ontario said of his find: “The tracks were visible at once” because he’d set up a searchable database to sort through the new NASA images.
“We can see where (the rover) measured the magnetic field, driving back and forth over the same route to improve the data.
“And we can also see where it drove into a small crater, and accidentally covered its heat radiator with soil as it struggled to get out again,” he added. “That ultimately caused it to overheat and stop working. And the rover itself shows up as a dark spot right where it stopped.”
Read more about the Canadian scientist’s find on Hyperbola, written by Rob Coppinger, Flightglobal’s technical editor.