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Luna 10 & Luna 12

photo of Luna satellite in a museum

* Mission Overview

Luna 10 was launched on 31 March 1966 and Luna 12 on 22 October 1966. They were the first Luna spacecraft intended to go into orbit around the moon, rather than soft or hard landing there. On 3 April 1966, Luna 10 was put into a selenocentric orbit -- becoming the moon's first man-made satellite. It had an apogee of 1015 km, a perigee of 350 km, an inclination to the equatorial plane of 72 degrees. The orbital time was 2 hours 58 minutes. The Luna 12 orbit was: apogee 1740 km, perigee 100 km, inclination 20 degrees, orbital time 3 hours 25 minutes. Both missions carried instrumentation to study the Moon and cislunar space. The instruments comprised a multichannel scintillation gamma-ray spectrometer intended to measure the moon's gamma- radiation. However, the Luna 10 and 12 spacecraft both measured the cosmic gamma-ray background during their flight to the moon.

* Instrumentation

Both satellites carried 40x40 mm NaI(Tl) scintillators. There was 32 channel energy resolution over the energy range 0.3-3.0 MeV. The detector aboard Luna 10 was housed inside the satellite and that of Luna 12 was outside.

* Science

A characteristic feature of the cosmic background spectra determined by both missions was an exponential decrease in the gamma-ray number with energy up to ~1.5 MeV, with a roughly flat spectrum above that energy.

The missions also fulfilled their primary intention, i.e. they returned much valuable data on the gamma-emissions from the lunar surface and rocks.

*Other information

  • Surkov, Exploration of Terrestrial Planets from Spacecraft, pp.182-193.

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