These tracks, made by the Soviet moon rover Lunokhod 2, as well as the rover itself were spotted by University of Western Ontario professor Phil Stooke. He found them by comparing recently-released images of the moon from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter to his own book The International Atlas of Lunar Exploration.
The Soviet Union landed Lunokhod 2 on the moon in January 1973, a month after the last American moonwalk. As the name suggests, it was the second of two solar-powered robotic rovers the Soviets sent to the moon.
The Lunokhod rovers were the first remote-controlled vehicles to travel on an extraterrestrial body and still hold the record for longest rover trip at 35 kilometres. (The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity have travelled 7.7 kilometres and 19.5 kilometres, respectively.)
Lunokhod 2’s mission was to collect images from the moon, observe X-rays from the sun, study the moon’s soil and measure its magnetic fields.