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Luna 1 was the first attempt by the Soviet Union to crash land into the surface of the moon but narrowly missed after a programming error becoming the first man-made object to escape Earth's gravitational well.

Is Luna 1 still operational? If so, where is it? Are there any sightings?

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It currently is orbiting the sun, on an orbit that takes 450 days. It is an orbit that takes it close to Earth's orbit, and so is not stable in the long term. It may eventually collide with the Earth, but perhaps only after many thousands of years. It is not functioning (it doesn't have any way of generating power) and is pretty small, much to small to be picked up in Earth telescopes. We don't know exactly where it is now.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. By the way, if we do not know the location of the probe exactly then how do we know the orbital period? $\endgroup$ – The Code Man May 30 '16 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ Also, an orbital period of 450 days is in between Earth and Mars, right? (Assuming the orbit is relatively circular) $\endgroup$ – The Code Man May 30 '16 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ We can be pretty sure it's not relatively circular. Since it was launched from Earth, its orbit must cross Earth's orbit. $\endgroup$ – Keith Thompson May 30 '16 at 21:54
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    $\begingroup$ Yup, not circular, and the orbit is based on it's trajectory as it flew past the moon. zarya.info/Diaries/Luna/Luna01.php "Its orbit carries it between 146 million kilometres and 197 million kilometres from the Sun, taking 450 days to complete a circuit" and on it's original fight: "passes 5,995 km from the Moon at a speed near 8,900 kilometres per hour and enters heliocentric orbit". $\endgroup$ – userLTK May 30 '16 at 22:57

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