What Was The First Rover To Land On A Celestial Body?
Answer: Lunokhod 1
While America beat the Soviet Union in a bid to put a man on the moon, the Soviets soundly beat the Americans in the race to put a rover on a celestial body. In November 10, 1970 Lunokhod 1 was ferried to the moon aboard the Luna 17 spacecraft; the launch followed in the footsteps of failed Lunokhod 1A launch in 1969.
Lunokohd 1 was succesfully deployed on the moon five days later and spent the next 11 months sending reports–including soil sample analysis and photographs–back to Earth. Lunokhod 1 held the record for longest functional space rover for over 30 years until it was dethroned by the lengthy service records of the Mars Exploration Rover Mission rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
When America finally put a rover on the moon it was part of the later Apollo missions and served as a lunar vehicle for the astronauts to navigate the moonscape in. Thanks to high resolution images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, it’s possible to check out the final resting places of several man-made objects on the moon including the Lunokhod 1 rover, the Apollo rovers, and various moon landers from both Soviet and American lunar missions.