This Day in History: Luna 2 became the first spacecraft to land on the moon, know about its 36 hours long journey

Publish Date: 14 Sep, 2021
This Day in History: Luna 2 became the first spacecraft to land on the moon, know about its 36 hours long journey

This Day in History:

Every day is filled with various historic events, that are remembered to ages, and there is one such event that took place on 14th September 1959 and was noted down as an important day in history.  

The Luna spacecraft was the first man-made craft that reached the surface of the moon on 14th September in the year, 1959. So, in this “On this Day in history” article further, we will know more about the Luna 2 spacecraft, the mission, and much more.

Also known as Lunik 2, Luna 2 was the second of the Soviet Union’s Luna program spacecraft launched to the moon.

What was the Luna 2 mission?

Luna 2 was the sixth Soviet attempt to send a probe crashing to the moon. While it was the first successful attempt by any nation, of making the Luna 2 probe the first human-made object to reach the surface of another celestial body.

Luna 2 crash-landed on the moon and took a direct path to the moon, similar to Luna 1, after fling for 36 hours straight before landing on the moon.

Luna 2 mission, in-depth:

The Luna 2 spacecraft launched by Russia, hit the moon at about 800 m from the center of the visible disk, and its landing impacted the lunar surface east of Mare Serenitatis near the Aristides, Autolycus crates, and Archimedes.

Similar in design to the Luna 1 spacecraft, the Luna 2 spacecraft was spherical in shape with protruding antennae and instrument parts. The instrumentation of Luna 2 was also similar to Luna 1 and included scintillation and Geiger counters, micrometeorite detectors, and a magnetometer.

Luna 2 highlights:

  • The Luna 2 spacecraft also carries Soviet pennants and had no propulsion system. On 13th September, the Luna 2 spacecraft released a bright orange cloud of Sodium gas that helped in tracking the spacecraft and became an experiment on the behavior of gas in space.

  • Launched on 12th September 1959, after 33.5 hours of flight, the radio signals from Luna 2 on 14th September stopped, thereby indicating that it had impacted on Moon.

  • After some 30 minutes Luna 2, the third stage of its rocket also impacted the moon at an unknown location.

  • The impact point in the Palus Putredinus region is approximately estimated to have occurred at 29.1 degrees N latitude, 0 degrees longitude. 

  • Luna 2 flew to the moon with 5 different instruments to conduct various tests while on its way to the moon.

  • The Luna 2 mission confirmed that the moon had no appreciable magnetic field, and no evidence of radiation belts was found there.

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