Luna 1

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Luna 1
Organization: Soviet Union[1][2][3]
Mission type: Planetary Science
Flyby of: Moon[1][2][3]
Satellite of: Sun[1][2][3]
Launch date: January 2, 1959[1][2][3]
NSSDC ID: [2] 1959-012A[2]
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Luna 1 (also known as the First Cosmic Ship,[1] Cosmic Rocket[2] and Mechta[2] (Russian: Мечта, Literal translation: Dream)) was a space probe of the Soviet Union.[3] It was the first mission in the Luna programme[3] and it was the first spacecraft to reach the Moon.[2][3] Luna 1 made some key scientific discoveries[3] and it is one of the best achievements of the Soviet Union space programme.[3]

Design[change | change source]

The spacecraft was sphere-shaped.[2] Five antennae came out of one end.[2] Instrument ports came out of the surface of the sphere.[2] It also had various metallic emblems with the Soviet coat of arms.[2]

Instruments[change | change source]

Luna 1 had radio equipment,[2][3] a tracking transmitter[2][3] and a telemetering system[2] for communication with Earth.[2][3] The spacecraft carried several scientific devices too.[2] These included a magnetometer,[2][3] a device for measuring magnetic fields,[3] a scintillation counter,[2][3] a device for detecting high energy particles[3] and a geiger counter,[2][3] a device for measuring radiation.[3] Luna 1 also carried a micrometeorite detector and other equipment.[2]

Mission[change | change source]

The space probe was launched on January 2, 1959[1][2][3] at Baikonur Cosmodrome[1][2][3] by a SS-6 Sapwood rocket.[2][3] The launch was successful and Luna 1 became the first man-made object ever to reach the escape velocity of the Earth.[1][3]

On January 3, 1959, the spacecraft released a cloud of sodium gas so that astronomers could track the probe and also to serve as an experiment on the behaviour of gas in space.[2][3]

Luna 1 was intended to impact the Moon's surface.[2][3] However, on January 4, 1959, it passed within 5995 km[2] of the Moon and began to orbit the Sun[1][2][3] between the orbits of Earth and Mars,[1][2] where it is still orbiting now,[1] on a 450 day orbit.[1] Thus, Luna 1 became the first spacecraft to orbit the Sun.[3]

Discoveries[change | change source]

The spacecraft made some key discoveries.[3] One is the Moon has no magnetic field.[2][3] Another is the fact that there is a flow of ionized plasma coming from the Sun, now called solar wind.[2][3] The probe also found out useful data about Earth's radiation belt, the Van Allen radiation belt.[2][3]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Cox, Brian; Cohen, Andrew (2010). Wonders of the Universe. HarperCollins. p. 8. ISBN 9780007386901 .
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 "Luna 1". NASA. http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1959-012A. Retrieved 2011-08-18.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 "Luna 1", How it Works (Imagine Publishing) (22): 59, 2011-06-16

Other websites[change | change source]