Luna 16

Luna 16The Soviet Union launches unmanned space probe Luna 16 toward the moon, the first success in the Soviet space program’s ongoing attempt to mount a robotic sample return mission. The lander’s drill-equipped sample collection arm gathers a 35 millimeter, 100-gram core sample of lunar soil, which is then packed into a shielded return capsule for direct return to Earth (seen here after landing). Now claiming that they advocate robotic sample return missions without putting human lives at risk, the Soviets can at last claim a lunar first – the first robotic return to Earth of a soil sample from another body in the solar system.