Luna 1

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Mechta
RIAN archive 510848 Interplanetary station Luna 1 - blacked.jpg
A museum replica
Mission type Lunar impactor
Operator Soviet Union
Harvard designation 1959 Mu 1
COSPAR ID 1959-012A
SATCAT no. 112
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer OKB-1
Launch mass 361 kilograms (796 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date January 2, 1959 16:41:21 (1959-01-02UTC16:41:21Z) UTC
Rocket Luna 8K72
Launch site Baikonur 1/5
Orbital parameters
Reference system Heliocentric
Semi-major axis 1.146 AU
Eccentricity 0.14767
Perihelion 0.9766 AU
Aphelion 1.315 AU
Inclination 0.01 degrees[source?]
Period 450 days
Lunar flyby (failed impact)
Closest approach 4 January 1959
Distance 5,995 kilometres (3,725 mi)

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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 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 "Luna 1". NASA. 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 "Luna 1", How it Works, Imagine Publishing (22), p. 59, 2011-06-16 

Other websites[change | change source]