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Luna 1, 2 & 3 - 50 years hence
tolis
post Dec 8 2008, 09:24 PM
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Hi All,

I am not sure whether this is of interest to the community, but next year will see three
rather significant 50th anniversaries in unmanned lunar and interplanetary spaceflight,
those of Luna-1, the first probe to escape the gravitational field of the Earth (lunar impact intended),
Luna-2, the first probe to actually hit the Moon and Luna 3, the first probe to image the Moon's far side.

Luna-1 was launched on 2nd January 1959 and flew by the Moon on the 4th of the same month at a
distance of 6000 km on its way to heliocentric orbit.

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1959-012A

Luna-2 was launched on the 12th of September of the same year, hitting the Moon on the 14th in
the Palus Putredinus region (0 degrees longitude, 29 degrees N latitude) near the crater Archimedes.

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1959-014A

Luna-3 was launched less than a month later on 4th October (the second anniversary of Sputnik-1),
swung around the Moon to image the far side on the 7th and transmittted its data to
the Earth by the 18th.

http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/masterCatalog.do?sc=1959-008A

I don't know about you but I'm thinking of raising a glass of champagne a day later
than New Year's Day in honour of Korolev and his merry band of pioneers.

Happy Holidays to All,

Tolis.
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ZenDraken
post Dec 9 2008, 04:54 AM
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I'd love to see a recovery mission for some of these "ancient" spacecraft. But finding a needle in a haystack might be easy in comparison.

A future assignment for astronautics grad students: Find and recover Luna 1.
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tedstryk
post Dec 9 2008, 12:37 PM
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Luna 2 smashed into the moon and Luna 3 burned up in Earth's atmosphere, so Luna 1 would be the only candidate for that.


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As old as Voyage...
post Dec 9 2008, 07:23 PM
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Speaking of recovery...I've always thought that one of the coolest spacecraft to recover would be the Apollo 10 Lunar Module Snoopy which is currently in solar orbit. Its the only flown Lunar Module to still be in existance.



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dvandorn
post Dec 9 2008, 08:08 PM
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Yep -- but only Snoopy's ascent stage survives. The descent stage crashed into the Moon in May or June, 1969. (No one is sure of the exact date, but it was dropped when the LM was in a 70 by 10 mile orbit, it had to have decayed pretty quickly.)

-the other Doug


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imipak
post Dec 9 2008, 09:18 PM
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For those vehicles that impacted the moon, it'd be interesting to image the impact sites regardless of the vehicle itself being spread in a very thin layer of deposited aluminium, steel and copper vapour as a thin film across thousands of square metres of regolith. Has such a man-made impact site ever been found, on the moon or anywhere else? I can't think of any unsure.gif


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charborob
post Dec 9 2008, 09:39 PM
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I remember seeing pictures of some of the craters created by the SIV-Bs that smashed into the Moon.
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Phil Stooke
post Dec 9 2008, 09:55 PM
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The pictures are in the Apollo 16 Preliminary Science report (and in my book). Ranger 7, 8 and 9 impact sites were all imaged - Ranger 8 by Lunar Orbiter 3, the other two by Apollo 16. The Apollo 13 and 14 SIVBs were imaged by Apollo 16. The Apollo 14 LM Ascent Stage was imaged by Apollo 16 at lower resolution.

I have suggested Ranger 6 might be visible in Clementine LWIR images, Ranger 7 may be and Apollo 14 SIVB certainly is.

For more detail and new sites, we have to wait for the new crop of imaging data. The metal wouldn't be vaporized - these impacts are slower than typical asteroidal velocities. It would just be broken up.

Phil


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kenny
post Dec 9 2008, 10:26 PM
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I'm very familiar with Phil's 3 flights, and I mention each of those 3 Lunas in my talks to various audiences, with a brief discussion about what each did. Luna 2 had really tough metal balls inside with Communist symbols and pennants designed to survive impact, so there will be items there at the impact site, I suspect. I will go with Phil and raise a glass on 2nd Jan, or maybe it should be 3 times, on 2 other days also? They were great achievements in the human endeavour in space.
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Phil Stooke
post Dec 10 2008, 02:25 PM
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I'll drink to that!

Phil


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tolis
post Dec 10 2008, 11:24 PM
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QUOTE (kenny @ Dec 9 2008, 10:26 PM) *
I'm very familiar with Phil's 3 flights, and I mention each of those 3 Lunas in my talks to various audiences, with a brief discussion about what each did. Luna 2 had really tough metal balls inside with Communist symbols and pennants designed to survive impact, so there will be items there at the impact site, I suspect. I will go with Phil and raise a glass on 2nd Jan, or maybe it should be 3 times, on 2 other days also? They were great achievements in the human endeavour in space.


It may be an interesting experiment to try and reconstruct the Luna-2 trajectory and refine the impact location based on modern ephemerides and using the radiometric data recorded eg by Jodrell Bank near Manchester, England.
The main impediment that I can think of is retrieving the data from late 1950s storage media (I shudder at the thought!). There may be more.
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Phil Stooke
post Dec 11 2008, 12:15 AM
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The tracking wasn't very good, but certainly more might be done with it. But a very useful start could be made by examining our crop of brand new spacecraft images of the supposed impact site. The coordinates usually used are only accurate to within about 30 km (one degree). But there are also several reports of visual observations of the impact in Palus Putredinis - see Sky & Telescope, Vol. 20(5), p. 265. That point could be examined - could be today in Apollo 15 panoramic camera frames, actually. But it would be hard to distinguish between Luna 2 and a natural impactor.

All contemporary reports add that the Luna 2 upper stage impacted 30 minutes later. Where is that? I assume that, if it followed the same path through space, it was displaced by the Moon's motion along its orbit in 30 minutes. That puts it somewhere near 20 north, 70 east, but a proper analysis needs to be done.

Phil


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ilbasso
post Dec 11 2008, 12:59 AM
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QUOTE (dvandorn @ Dec 9 2008, 03:08 PM) *
Yep -- but only Snoopy's ascent stage survives. The descent stage crashed into the Moon in May or June, 1969. (No one is sure of the exact date, but it was dropped when the LM was in a 70 by 10 mile orbit, it had to have decayed pretty quickly.)

Two other pieces of Apollo hardware are still flying around out there, too - the S-IVB stages for Apollo 9 (which was deliberately placed in solar orbit) and Apollo 12 (which was accidental). The Apollo 12 S-IVB was initially recovered in 2002 when it was thought to be a NEO and given designation J002E3.


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dvandorn
post Dec 11 2008, 06:15 AM
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I just realized I mis-stated something. At the time of ascent/descent stage separation, Snoopy was actually in an orbit of roughly 300 by 10 miles, not 70 by 10. For reasons of aligning the craft properly to simulate a Constant Delta Height rendezvous sequence after two low passes over the landing site, they had to enlarge the orbit between passes to place the LM and CSM in the proper locations.

This impacts this discussion in that a 300 by 10 mile orbit might have taken longer to decay than a 70 by 10 orbit. Depending on how the mascons affected the descent stage, the dynamic may well have raised the periselene a bit before dropping it back down again.

I do know that NASA wasn't at all concerned that this piece of space flotsam might be yet in orbit when they launched Apollo 11 into an almost identical orbit two months later, though. So, the descent stage must have been assumed to have impacted by then. Of course, with no electronic tracking (and skin tracking being nearly impossible at that distance), and with no seismometers emplaced as of yet, it would be nearly impossible to figure out where and when it actually impacted. Same with Apollo 11's ascent stage, the impact of which was never observed on the EASEP seismometer.

The impact speeds were indeed not incredibly high, especially for the orbital assets like the Apollo 10 descent stage and all of the ascent stages from the landing missions. The materials would be broken up a lot but not vaporized. Many small but recognizable pieces of terrestrial technology are scattered around the lunar surface in a variety of locations; some impact sites will likely only be found when someone on the surface runs across one of these pieces.

But truly, is it certain that artificial craters are necessarily indistinguishable from natural ones? The images I've seen from known spacecraft/booster impacts tend to have dark haloes -- at least I recall this from at least two of the S-IVB impact craters and at least one of the Ranger impacts. It was speculated at the time that this might be due to the interaction of remnant volatiles within the impactors with the lunar ejecta, an effect that was most obvious with the S-IVB impacts but still noticeable in some other impacts, including one of the Ranger impacts, if my memory isn't fooling me again...

I know dark haloes are not a definite or ubiquitous trait of spacecraft impact craters, but wouldn't a look through the existing imagery of the "target" areas in question for fresh-looking dark halo craters be something worthwhile to try?

-the other Doug


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ZenDraken
post Dec 11 2008, 06:19 AM
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QUOTE (ilbasso @ Dec 10 2008, 04:59 PM) *
Two other pieces of Apollo hardware are still flying around out there, too - the S-IVB stages for Apollo 9 (which was deliberately placed in solar orbit) and Apollo 12 (which was accidental). The Apollo 12 S-IVB was initially recovered in 2002 when it was thought to be a NEO and given designation J002E3.


So the location of the Apollo 12 S-IVB is known, any chance of finding the four panels connecting the S-IVB to the CM? They would be a challenge to find. Would it even be possible?

Would a future deep-space rendezvous with Pioneer 10/11 or Voyager 1/2 be possible?. I'm sure we have pretty accurate trajectory data for them, but how close would that get you? Once you got there, would you still have to search around with telescopes or radar to find them?

Just asking...
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