Lunokhod-1 Soviet Lunar Surface Vehicle

by Simon Kassel

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Description of the delivery of the Soviet lunar exploration vehicle to the lunar surface in the Sea of Rains on November 17, 1970 by the Luna-17 mission, derived from literature published in the USSR between that date and May 1971. The fact that the Lunokhod-1 has thus far traveled nearly 10 km over rugged terrain and apparently continues to do so indicates success of the concept of a remote drone interacting directly with an unknown and hostile environment. Its sensory equipment comprises narrow-band television systems, mechanical probes, a chemical analysis system, X-ray and cosmic ray detectors, and assorted temperature and pressure gauges. However, the telemetry associated with the transmission of their data to the earth must be quite formidable. According to Soviet publications, the data flow on the condition of the vehicle's wheels alone exceeds all information received from all the satellites during the first three years of the space era.

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