General, Research, Technology

Lunokhod-1 was launched 50 years ago. How was it arranged and what is it for?

On November 10, 1970, Soviet astronomers successfullylaunched the world's first remote-controlled rover into space. It was Lunokhod-1, which reached the lunar surface on November 17, 1970 and worked there until September 14, 1971. During this time, he drove 10 540 meters and studied the features of the lunar soil, as well as other properties of the space object. Exactly 50 years have passed since that moment and this is a great occasion to tell about everyonekey points of the mission. After all, the launch of the first rover is not just about taking and sending it towards the Moon. Everything was much more complicated. It is worth starting with the fact that the Luna-17 interplanetary station was used to send the device, which, together with the lunar rover, still lies on the surface of the Moon.

Soviet "Lunokhod-1"

Launch of "Lunokhod-1"

As mentioned above, to send Lunokhod-1The Luna-17 interplanetary station was used on the Moon. It was launched into the orbit of our planet using the Proton launch vehicle. The launch of the spacecraft on the flight path to the Moon was provided by the first three stages of the carrier and the upper stage. The launch took place on November 10, 1970 at 17 hours 44 minutes 01 seconds from the Baikonur cosmodrome located in Kazakhstan.

Interplanetary station "Luna-17"

The flight to the moon took a whole week. The interplanetary station "Luna-17" was controlled from the Earth and on November 12 and 14, 1970, astronomers slightly changed its trajectory so that the device eventually reached a pre-marked point on the surface of the earth's satellite. The station flew to the Moon on November 15 and entered orbit one of the artificial satellites of the moon... The decline in the apparatus began to occur on November 16, and already On November 17, at 6 hours 46 minutes 50 seconds, the Luna-17 station made a successful landing... The landing site was the so-called Sea of ​​Rains (Mare Imbrium), located in the northwestern part of the side of the Moon visible from Earth.

Color photograph of "Lunokhod-1"

Artificial satellite of the moon - an automatic station that moves alongorbit the Moon to study its features. The very first of these was Luna 10, launched in 1966. You can read about how satellites work in this article.

After a thorough examination of the landing site, at 9 hours 28 minutes of the same day, Lunokhod-1 moved onto the lunar soil. From that moment on, the world's first rover began studying the surface of the moon.

Read also: 10 radiation incidents of the space race era

Construction of "Lunokhod-1"

The purpose of "Lunokhod-1" was to study the featuresthe lunar surface, finding out the level of radioactive and X-ray cosmic radiation, as well as analyzing the chemical composition of the lunar soil. The device weighed 756 kilograms, was equipped with eight wheels and could move at two speeds - 0.8 and 2.0 kilometers per hour. Wheels with a metal mesh allowed it to pass through protrusions 35 centimeters high and cracks up to 1 meter wide. On the top of the case there was a solar battery that charged the battery.
Lunokhod-1 equipment consisted of six parts:

  • cameras for taking photos. One of them was working, and the second was a spare;
  • spectrometer for measuring the intensity of electromagnetic radiation;
  • x-ray telescope for observation of distant objects in the X-ray spectrum;
  • odometer for measuring wheel revolutions. With the help of it, astronomers calculated how far the lunar rover traveled;
  • radiation detector to monitor the level of radiation activity;
  • laser reflector to measure the distance between two points on the lunar surface.

Also on the body of the device there were antennas for communication with the Earth. A special remote control was used to control Lunokhod-1. The aircraft pilot was Vyacheslav Dovgan - candidate of military sciences and author of over 120 scientific papers.

Vyacheslav Dovgan at the Lunokhod-1 control panel

Achievements of "Lunokhod-1"

"Lunokhod-1" worked on the surface of the earthsatellite for 302 days and covered 10,540 meters at an average speed of 0.14 kilometers per hour. The maximum speed he was able to gain was 2 kilometers per hour. It is important to note that most of the time he was stationary and engaged in collecting scientific data. With the help of his equipment, he made and transmitted to Earth more than 20,000 images, 206 panoramic images and 25 X-ray analyzes of the chemical composition of the lunar soil. He also often used a penetrometer - a device that introduces an instrument into a viscous medium and estimates its density. With the help of it, the researchers obtained information about the physical properties of the lunar surface.

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The successful launch of Lunokhod-1 allowed the USSR to make a breakthrough in the space race with the USA in the second half of the 20th century. You can read about other Soviet achievements in the field of cosmonautics in this material.

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