Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Moon is Back

National Geographic has created a new map of the moon and has used it to plot the history of lunar exploration. In Explore 50 Years of Lunar Visits National Geographic has plotted out all the manned and unmanned landings on the moon.

Accompanying National Geographic's new map of the moon is a timeline of all missions to the moon since Russia's Luna 2 space probe landed on September 14th, 1959. This timeline shows that the golden age of moon exploration was during the late 1960's inspired by the race to land the first man on the moon. After the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, when Neil Armstrong became the first human to step on the moon, the early 70's saw a flurry of manned missions to the moon. However since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 no human being has landed on the moon.

After Russia's Luna 24 mission (unmanned) in 1976 there was a huge 14 year gap with no lunar missions of any kind. This gap ended in 1990 when Japan's Hiten probe was launched. However the Hiten probe didn't herald a new age of lunar exploration and there were only three more missions in the next 17 years. Since 2007 there has been more interest in the moon with a handful of lunar missions having been launched. Now there are 12 lunar missions planned to take place in the next 6 years.

Alongside this timeline National Geographic has also mapped out where all the lunar missions have landed on the moon. The vast majority have landed on the near side of the moon. Only 8 lunar missions have so far landed or orbited on the far side of the moon.

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