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Moon NASA Space Science

Decades-Old Soviet Reflector Spotted On the Moon 147

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 jandoedel ( 1149947 ) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:33PM (#31989476)
    or maybe they had a very precise, but inaccurate record of the position.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:39PM (#31989576)

    Fuck! The Moon!!

  • Re:why bother ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SgtAaron ( 181674 ) <> on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:02PM (#31990010)

    There are other mirrors up there. why actually search for this one ?

    FTFA: Now the team can eventually pin down the changing shape of the lunar orbit to the millimeter to help test Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

    There might be other reflective things on the moon, but I assume that this one is somehow special. I at least *hope* that the people searching for it know what they are doing :p

    There are certainly other reflectors out there on the moon, that could and have been used for measuring the moon's distance--and for some time now. I can't imagine what could be special about this one, except for the quality, perhaps? Nah. What if it's not kosher for others to shoot lasers at the reflectors that other scientists use? The article ends there and is skimpy on details.

  • cool. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mirix ( 1649853 ) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:12PM (#31990198)

    Every time I see pictures of the soviet rovers, I can't help but think how bizarre the things look. Like a combination of a bathtub and a baby carriage.

    wiki article [] about one of the rovers.

    I found it neat that it had some decaying isotope, and a lid, to close and keep the internals warm during lunar night. Too bad they didn't have lithium ion batteries back then eh? Not sure what they used, but 1970's era rechargeable batteries tend to suck period.

    The wheels are especially weird looking, like something from a nightmare.
    wheel closeup picture []

  • by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:26PM (#31990444) Homepage Journal

    American Football is played on a field 360 by 160 feet, or 109.72m by 48.77m, or 5351.04sq.m. Some of the length is end zones.

    IFBA declared a fixed size for a pitch of 105m long and 68m wide, which is 7140 sq.m, instead of instead of a minimum and maximum length - from 100m to 110m - and a minimum and a maximum width - from 64m to 75m. So the olde standard allowed fields from 6400 to 8250 sq.m.

    So an American Football field would be from 750 millisoccerfields to 650 millisoccerfields.

    Or a pitch would be from 1540 millisoccerfields to 1200 millisoccerfields.

    American Football is always played on a narrower, but sometimes longer, field. However, we rarely think of the end zones as playable area, so think of a football field here as 100 yards long. And if you're playing soccer on an American Football field, it *is* about 100 yards long, as the goalposts rarely are moved, and you usually end up giving up most of the end zones. This and the narrow fields many U.S. high schools have available really stunts play, as width is so important in soccer. I would take a 90m field that was 60m wide over a 100m field that was 48m wide.

    It immediately caught me that someone somewhere thought an American Football field was larger than a soccer pitch. this is just not so.

    Now, hockey was even more interesting to me, where rink size varied greatly. The Montreal Forum had a huge sheet, and they preferred skaters such as Guy LeFler, who could drive you crazy trying to find them, much less check them. The old Boston garden had a small sheet, with tight radius corners. Going into the Bruins' corners with any of the old-style Bruins defensemen coming in pretty much guaranteed you were going to be squashed like a bug. Some old Bruins used to talk of Bobby Orr's stickhandling as playing ping-pong in a phone booth. In the Forum, this was still important, but trying to crash the boards in the Forum often got you nothing but boards.

    In sports, for sure, size does matter.

  • by CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:47PM (#31990820)

    The best argument for the moon landing IMO is the scrutiny the Soviets would have had to put into it

    For me the best arguement is the fact that it's forty years later and no one has made a deathbed confession that they worked on faking the landing. To fake it you would have needed many many many people to keep a secret for 40 years. Impossible IMO.

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