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Moon NASA Space Science

Decades-Old Soviet Reflector Spotted On the Moon 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the always-in-the-last-place-you-look dept.
cremeglace writes "No one had seen a laser reflector that Soviet scientists had left on the moon almost 40 years ago, despite years of searching. Turns out searchers had been looking kilometers in the wrong direction. On 22 April, a team of physicists finally saw an incredibly faint flash from the reflector, which was ferried across the lunar surface by the Lunokhod 1 rover. The find comes thanks to NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which last month imaged a large area where the rover was reported to have been left. Then the researchers, led by Tom Murphy of the University of California, San Diego, could search one football-field-size area at a time until they got a reflection."
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Decades-Old Soviet Reflector Spotted On the Moon

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  • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:29PM (#31989410) Journal

    Well if they'd been looking kilometres in the wrong direction, it implies that there wasn't a precise record of its position!

  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@ g m ail.com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:46PM (#31989696)

    This I always felt was the best proof that humans were on the moon, as opposed to say that the whole thing was faked in a movie studio.

    Eh, personally, I think that's not a very good argument. This soviet thing is as much a counterargument as anything -- the Soviets have one on the moon, but they didn't send anyone. Probes can place reflectors.

    The best argument for the moon landing IMO is the scrutiny the Soviets would have had to put into it. They would have been able to pick up telemetry and the transmissions from the craft (hell, amateurs were able to see the Apollo ships through telescopes) during the flight.

    Long story short: we sent something of the right size to the moon, landed it there, and brought it back, and it was transmitting what we said it was transmitting. You can concoct some half-baked explanation of us sending up a recording or something like that (actually a recording wouldn't work as they transmitted time-sensitive information, so you'd have to say that NASA was transmitting a hidden stream to the craft what they would transmit back), but IMO by the time you get to this point it seems like the hard parts of Apollo were basically done.

  • Re:now we are six (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spatial (1235392) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:52PM (#31989822)
    Those laser ranging retroreflectors were put on the Moon by aliens.

    It's obvious really. If they weren't then my conspiracy theories about the Moon landings would be proven false. And that's physically impossible, because they're true!
  • SETI is HARD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by renrutal (872592) <renrutal@gmail.com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:19PM (#31990334)

    If you take decades to find a reflector in the nearest astral body, it quite puts in perspective the whole difficulty of searching for extraterrestrial life light-years away.

  • by Kerckhoffs Principle (1401387) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @07:59AM (#31998048)

    Their space program pretty much sucked.

    Well, considering the fact that they : - launched the first satellite in space - shot the first animal in space - had the first man in space - reached the moon first (Luna I & II) I'd have to agree with you that their program obviously sucked!

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