Lunokhod 1


Lunokhod 1

Lunokhod 1 (Луноход, "moon walker" in Russian) was the first of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as 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.

Rover description

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 soil for soil density and mechanical property tests. An X-ray spectrometer, an X-ray telescope, cosmic ray detectors, and a laser device were also included. The vehicle was powered by batteries which were recharged during the lunar day by a solar cell array 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 17 was launched on November 10,1970 at 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 12 and 14), it entered lunar orbit on November 15, 1970 at 22:00 UTC.

Landing and surface operations

The spacecraft soft-landed on the Moon in the Sea of Rains on November 17 at 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

1970:

* 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.

Current location

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]

Results

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.

ee also

* Luna 17
* Lunokhod 2

References

External links

* [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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