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Luna 2

By Wikipedia,
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Luna 2
Organization Soviet Union
Major contractors OKB-1
Mission type Lunar Science
Lunar impact
Satellite of Moon
Orbits none
Launch date September 12, 1959 at 06:39:42 UTC
Launch vehicle R-7 - (Luna 8K72)
Mission duration 33.5 hours
Mission highlight Lunar impact (see below)
COSPAR ID 1959-014A
Home page NASA NSSDC Master Catalog
Mass 390.2 kg (860.2 lb)
Lunar Landing Lunar collision
September 13, 1959, 21:02:24 UTC
Landing coordinates 29°06′N 0°00′W / 29.1°N 0°W / 29.1; -0

Luna 2 (E-1A series) was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched in the direction of the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon. It crashed upon the lunar surface west of Mare Serenitatis near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus. Luna 2 was similar in design to Luna 1, a spherical spacecraft with protruding antennae and instrument parts. The instrumentation was also similar, including scintillation counters, geiger counters, a magnetometer, Cherenkov detectors, and micrometeorite detectors. There were no propulsion systems on Luna 2 itself.

Significance and mission

Scientifically, Luna 2 is most famous for confirming the earlier detection of the solar wind by Luna 1, via its hemispherical ion traps designed by Konstantin Gringauz. Luna 1 had provided the first evidence of this phenomenon; on Luna 2, Gringauz changed the four sensors to a tetrahedral arrangement, instead of planar, to get better measurements of the plasma flux.

After launching on September 12, 1959, Luna 2 separated from its third stage, which travelled along with it towards the Moon. On September 13 the spacecraft released a bright orange cloud of sodium gas, which aided in spacecraft tracking and acted as an experiment on the behavior of gas in space. On September 14, after 33.5 hours of flight, radio signals from Luna 2 abruptly ceased, indicating it had crashed upon the Moon. The impact point, in the Palus Putredinis region, is roughly estimated to have occurred at 0 degrees longitude, 29.1 degrees N latitude. Some 30 minutes after Luna 2, the third stage of its rocket also crashed upon the Moon. The mission confirmed that the Moon had no appreciable magnetic field, and found no evidence of the Moon having radiation belts.

Van Allen Radiation Belt

Luna 2 showed time variations in the electron flux and energy spectrum within the outer belt.

Luna 2 was instrumented with a three component fluxgate magnetometer, similar to that used on Luna 1, but with the dynamic range reduced by a factor of 4 to -750 to +750 nanoteslas (gammas) so that the quantization uncertainty was -12 to +12 nT. The spacecraft spin period was 840 seconds about the major axis, and there was a precession with a period of 86 seconds. The sampling rate of the instrument was approximately once per minute. According to the Principal Investigator, the errors associated with the experiment zero levels and spacecraft fields were such that the accuracy was approximately 50 to 100 nT. The spacecraft gave results similar to those of Luna 1 in the Earth's radiation belts and, upon impact, placed an upper limit of 100 nT on the lunar magnetic field at the surface.

USSR pennants

Elements of the USSR pennants, delivered by Luna 2 to the moon
Elements of the USSR pennants, delivered by Luna 2 to the moon

The spacecraft also carried Soviet pennants. Two of them, located in the spacecraft, were sphere-shaped, with the surface covered by identical pentagonal elements. In the center of this sphere was an explosive for the purpose of slowing the huge impact velocity. This was designed as a very simple way to provide the last necessary delta-v for those elements on the retro side of the sphere to not get vaporized. Each pentagonal element was made of stainless steel and had the USSR Coat of Arms and the Cyrillic letters СССР (Russian; it translates into English as USSR) relief engraved on one side, and the words СССР СЕНТЯБРЬ 1959 (English: USSR SEPTEMBER 1959) relief engraved on the other side. The third pennant was located in the last stage of the Luna 2 rocket, which collided with the moon's surface 30 minutes after the spacecraft did. It was a capsule filled with liquid, with aluminium strips placed into it. On each of these strips the USSR Coat of Arms, the words 1959 СЕНТЯБРЬ (English: 1959 SEPTEMBER) and the words СОЮЗ СОВЕТСКИХ СОЦИАЛИСТИЧЕСКИХ РЕСПУБЛИК (English: UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS) were engraved.

On September 15, 1959, the premier of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev, presented to the American president Dwight D. Eisenhower a copy of the spherical pennant as a gift. That sphere is located at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene Kansas.

The only other known copy of the spherical pennant is located at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas.

See also

External links

Preceded by
Luna 1959A
Luna program Succeeded by
Luna 3

Text from Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License; additional terms may apply.

Published - July 2009

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