- Lunokhod 1
Lunokhod 1 (Луноход, "moon walker" in Russian) was the first of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the
Moonby the Soviet Unionas part of its Lunokhod program. The spacecraft which carried Lunokhod 1 was named Luna 17. Lunokhod was the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.
Lunokhod 1 was a lunar vehicle formed of a tub-like compartment with a large convex lid on eight independently powered wheels. Its length was 2.3 metres. Lunokhod was equipped with a cone-shaped antenna, a highly directional
helical antenna, four television cameras, and special extendable devices to impact the lunar soilfor soil density and mechanical property tests. An X-ray spectrometer, an X-ray telescope, cosmic raydetectors, and a laserdevice were also included. The vehicle was powered by batteries which were recharged during the lunar day by a solar cellarray mounted on the underside of the lid. During the lunar nights, the lid was closed and a Polonium-210 heat source kept the internal components at operating temperature. Lunokhod was intended to operate through three lunar days (approximately 3 Earth months) but actually operated for eleven lunar days.
Launch and lunar orbit
Luna 17was launched on November 10, 1970at 14:44:01 UTC. After reaching earth parking orbit, the final stage of Luna 17's launching rocket fired to place it into a trajectory towards the Moon (1970-11-10 at 14:54 UTC). After two course correction maneuvers (on November 12and 14), it entered lunar orbit on November 15, 1970at 22:00 UTC.
Landing and surface operations
The spacecraft soft-landed on the Moon in the
Sea of Rainson November 17at 03:47 UTC. The lander had dual ramps from which the payload, Lunokhod 1, could descend to the lunar surface. At 06:28 UT the rover moved onto the moon's surface.
The rover would run during the lunar day, stopping occasionally to recharge its batteries via the solar panels. At night the rover would hibernate until the next sunrise, heated by the radioactive source
November 17- November 22: The rover drives 197 m, returns 14 close up pictures of the Moon and 12 panoramic views, during 10 communication sessions. It also conducts analyses of the lunar soil.
December 9- December 22: 1,522 m 1971:
January 8- January 20: 1,936 m
February 8- February 19: 1,573 m
March 9- March 20: 2,004 m
April 8- April 20: 1,029 m
May 7- May 20: 197 m
June 5- June 18: 1,559 m
July 4- July 17: 220 m
August 3- August 16: 215 m
August 31- September 14: 88 m
End of Mission
Controllers finished the last communications session with Lunokhod 1 at 13:05 UT on
September 14, 1971. Attempts to reestablish contact were finally discontinued and the operations of Lunokhod 1 officially ceased on October 4, 1971, the anniversary of Sputnik 1.
The final location of Lunokhod 1 is uncertain by a few kilometers since
lunar laser ranging experiments have failed to detect a return signal from it since the 1970s. [citeweb|title=Lunar Lost & Found: The Search for Old Spacecraft|url=http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060327_mystery_monday.html|publisher=www.space.com/|accessdate=2008-02-06]
During its 322 Earth days of operations, Lunokhod traveled 10540 metres and returned more than 20000 TV images and 206 high-resolution panoramas. In addition, Lunokhod 1 performed twenty-five soil analyses with its RIFMA x-ray fluorescence spectrometer and used its penetrometer at 500 different locations.
* [http://www.zarya.info/Diaries/Luna/Luna17.php Zarya - Lunokhod 1 chronology]
* [http://selena.sai.msu.ru/Home/Spacecrafts/Lunokhod1/lunokhod1e.htm Lunar and Planetary Department Moscow University Lunokhod 1 page]
* [http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/tmp/1970-095A.html NSSDC Master Catalog: Spacecraft: Luna 17/Lunokhod 1]
* [http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/lunarussr.html Other Soviet lunar missions]
* [http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_CatalogMoon.htm Don P. Mitchell's catalog of Soviet moon images] including Lunokhod 1
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