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The Lunar 2 is the first human-made object to impact another celestial body

Tuesday, September 14th 2021, 4:36 am - On this day in weather history, the Lunar 2 impacted the Moon.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On Monday, September 14, 1959, Luna 2 impacted the Moon, making it the first human-made object to contact another celestial body.

Luna 2 was the sixth spacecraft of the Soviet Union's Luna programme. It carried five types of instruments to conduct experiments on the Moon.

Launching on September 12, the spacecraft took a direct route to the Moon. The day before Luna 2 landed, it released a sodium vapour cloud, providing a visual reference of its location to those observing from Earth. This cloud was visible from locations across Europe. The cloud also acted as a test to see how the sodium gas would behave in zero gravity.

Screen Shot 2021-08-26 at 7.01.33 PM Courtesy of NASA

Scientifically, Luna 2 provided various insights, including the electron flux in the Van Allen radiation belt, but it also had cultural and political impacts.

Some Americans thought they were ahead of the Soviet Union in the Space Race but recalculated when Luna 2 landed on the Moon. When Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited the U.S., he gifted President Dwight D. Eisenhower a replica of pennants that the Soviets left on the lunar surface.

Screen Shot 2021-08-26 at 9.25.36 PM Courtesy of NASA

Luna 2 was the first of a series of lunar impacts led by the Soviet Union. The U.S. followed with a similar Ranger mission.

On Nov. 1, 1959, the Soviet Union released stamps that commemorated the Lunar 2.

Stamps of Germany (DDR) 1959, MiNr 0721 Courtesy of Wikipedia

To learn more about the landing of the Lunar 2, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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