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Lunar photos from NASA orbiter offer glimpse at remnants of the Space Race

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Images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have provided space enthusiasts with a rare glimpse at vintage spacecraft from the Soviet Union and classic Apollo missions.


NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is currently in the midst of a mission to gather detailed 3D imagery of the moon's surface. As part of the ongoing journey, the LRO is getting a good look at vintage Soviet Union "Luna" spacecraft that have been resting on lunar soil since the fiercely competitive Space Race era. These high-resolution images have also given credence to longstanding (but heretofore unconfirmed) theories that scientists believe explain some of the USSR's ill-fated solar projects. For instance, Luna 23 was a mission shrouded in mystery after a malfunction resulted in the unmanned craft roughly landing on the moon in 1974. LRO photos reveal that Luna 23 fell on its side during the incident, crippling the Soviet effort. Artifacts from NASA's storied Apollo series of missions have also been captured during the surveying process, which began in 2009. Needless to say, it's a tremendous resource not to be missed by fans of the final frontier.