On 17 November 1970 an interesting space craft landed on the surface of the Moon. It carried the first remotely controlled robotic lunar rover, Lunokhod 1. The Lunokhod looked like a ‘giant saucepan on wheels’.
For the next ten months the rover was driven by operators in the Soviet Union, with the total distance travelled being about 10 km. For comparison, in six years of operation the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has travelled about 12 km.
After landing, the rover drove down a ramp onto the lunar surface and tested its eight wheels. The rover was driven by solar power during the day; at night it parked and relied on thermal energy from a polonium-210 radioisotope heater to survive the cold (-150°C).
Lunokhod 1 sent back valuable data concerning the composition of the soil, close up views of the local topography, and important measurements of the soil.
Contact was lost with the rover on September 14, 1971, a second rover Lunokhod 2 would land on the Moon on 16th January 1973.