Published: 14th September 2021
#ThrowbackToday: Guess which spacecraft was the first one to land on the moon?
In today's #TBT, we recall the journey of the Soviet Union's Lunik 2 and why it was an important landmark for the whole world. Here's what it was all about and the experiments it carried out
Soviet's and their space expeditions are legendary, always have been. And with the Second Soviet Cosmic Rocket, better known by the nickname Lunik 2, they became the first past a very specific and special finishing line — the first spacecraft that actually touched the Moon's surface.
This momentous occasion was on September 14, 1959 when Lunik 2, after two days of an arduous journey, violently crash landed on the Moon. This spacecraft carried five different types of instruments to conduct various experiments, a few among which were with regards to the radiation surrounding Planet Earth and the magnetic fields of the Moon and Earth. The mission couldn't find any proof of radiation belts on the Moon or any strong magnetic field.
Apart from all the fascinating experiments that were conducted, a vapour cloud was released by Lunik 2 that expanded to a 650 km diameter. This helped observatories spot it. Also, this was an experiment to see how sodium gas would behave in a vacuum. Plus, upon landing of the spacecraft, Soviet emblems were deposited on the Moon's surface.
This mission was a success for the Soviet Union and though the USA needed a lot of convincing to believe that it indeed was, the world accepted and sat up in awe.