Lunokhod Style

Image source
Image credit: NASA or Soviet Union

A post on the planetary society links to this very cool article. Many of my generation may have assumed that the dinky little Pathfinder rover was the first remote vehicle to wander the surface of another world - but in fact the Soviets got there first.

The USSR placed two rovers, or Lunokhods on the surface of Earth's moon early in the seventies. It was also revealed in the 1990s that they even landed a pair of ill-fated rovers on Mars in the seventies - one of which expired after mere seconds, while the other was destroyed in what you might call a 'descent of unplanned rapidity' (or 'crash').

On the one hand, the lunokhods are very cool - not just a milestone in the history of space exploration, but a damn cool piece of retro chic. On the other hand, the Soviet Mars rovers are emblematic of the whole Soviet Mars program: cool ideas that failed spectacularly, seemingly through nothing but bad luck.


Chiya said...

but in fact the Soviets got there first. ...yay go them. (There was this lady who came to the university and gave a talk about the Russian space program and it just happened to be when I wasn't in class so I went and watched it).

I like the phrase "descent of unplanned rapidity". :)

Geosomin said...

That thing is increadibly neat looking.I'm not sure about the wheels tho...

All we need now is for Nasa or the soviets to get into some stylish steam punk technology. And cyborgs. Yes. That's what we need out there. Hmmmm....