Famous space landers that left Earth's surface to explore the Moon's mysteries

Soviet Union's Luna 9 was the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon and send images to Earth. It was launched by PAO S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation and landed on the Moon on 31 January 1966. The probe proved that the Moon's surface can support the weight of a lander and that an object would not sink into a loose layer of dust as some models predicted. Image: NASA
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Soviet Union's Luna 9 was the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon and send images to Earth. It was launched by PAO S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation and landed on the Moon on 31 January 1966. The probe proved that the Moon's surface can support the weight of a lander and that an object would not sink into a loose layer of dust as some models predicted. Image: NASA

NASA's Surveyor 1 is the first in a series of seven robotic spacecraft that were sent to the Moon to gather data in preparation for Apollo missions. It was sent on 30 May 1966 and it took three thrusters to slow the lander. Image: NASA
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NASA's Surveyor 1 is the first in a series of seven robotic spacecraft that were sent to the Moon to gather data in preparation for Apollo missions. It was sent on 30 May 1966 and it took three thrusters to slow the lander. Image: NASA

Luna 13 was the Soviet Union's second spacecraft that step on the Moon successfully. It landed on 21 December 1966 and measured the soil's physical and mechanical properties and its radiation characteristics. The mission was carried out by the Lavochkin Association which is a Russian aerospace company. Image: NASA
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Luna 13 was the Soviet Union's second spacecraft that step on the Moon successfully. It landed on 21 December 1966 and measured the soil's physical and mechanical properties and its radiation characteristics. The mission was carried out by the Lavochkin Association which is a Russian aerospace company. Image: NASA

NASA's second spacecraft, Surveyor 3, made it to the Moon's surface on 17 April 1967. Using a surface sampler to study the soil on the Moon, it conducted experiments to see how the lunar surface would react against the weight of an Apollo lunar module. Image: NASA
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NASA's second spacecraft, Surveyor 3, made it to the Moon's surface on 17 April 1967. Using a surface sampler to study the soil on the Moon, it conducted experiments to see how the lunar surface would react against the weight of an Apollo lunar module. Image: NASA

Surveyor 5 reached the Moon on 8 September 1967. But the mission nearly failed due to a leak in the spacecraft's thruster system. Quick thinking on the part of the engineers salvaged the mission. It discovered that the surface of the Moon is likely basaltic rather than powdery. Image: NASA
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Surveyor 5 reached the Moon on 8 September 1967. But the mission nearly failed due to a leak in the spacecraft's thruster system. Quick thinking on the part of the engineers salvaged the mission. It discovered that the surface of the Moon is likely basaltic rather than powdery. Image: NASA

Surveyor 6 that landed on 7 January 1968 was the only spacecraft of the series to land in the lunar highland region. It had the most extensive set of instruments, with which it conducted a number of scientific experiments on the lunar soil. Image: NASA
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Surveyor 6 that landed on 7 January 1968 was the only spacecraft of the series to land in the lunar highland region. It had the most extensive set of instruments, with which it conducted a number of scientific experiments on the lunar soil. Image: NASA

Luna 21 was launched in 1973 by the Soviet Union' Lavochkin Association. It successfully delivered the Lunokhod 2 rover to the surface of the Moon. Luna 21 was sent to the Moon to observe solar X-rays, measure local magnetic fields, and study the mechanical properties of the lunar soil. Image: NASA/Russian Academy of Science
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Luna 21 was launched in 1973 by the Soviet Union' Lavochkin Association. It successfully delivered the Lunokhod 2 rover to the surface of the Moon. Luna 21 was sent to the Moon to observe solar X-rays, measure local magnetic fields, and study the mechanical properties of the lunar soil. Image: NASA/Russian Academy of Science

Beresheet, which means
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Beresheet, which means "In the Beginning" in Hebrew, was the first attempt made by Israel to land on the Moon's surface. It was carried out by a private Israeli organisation called SpaceIL. This mission was a failure because during the landing, in April 2019, the lander had a massive crash. Image: SpaceIL



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