Luna-5 (1965): Some Results of a Failed Mission to the Moon
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Luna-5 was the second Soviet spacecraft to reach the Moon. During the first decade of space exploration of the Moon, the Luna probe series was the main part of the Soviet scientific program. The tasks of the Luna-5 probe launched to the Moon in May 1965 were to land softly on the lunar surface, take photos, and study the surface. Before the Luna-5 landing, the prospective coordinates of the landing site were telegraphed to observatories so that they would observe the event. However, during its descent, the braking engine failed and the probe crash landed at 22 h 13 min on May 12, 1965. Later, new supposed coordinates of the impact were reported. All the experiments were undoubtedly lost; nevertheless, successive television images of the failed landing made at the Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory (AbAO) of the Georgian Academy of Sciences can be considered a specific scientific result of the mission. In the images, a changeable object was detected near the large Lansberg crater; for obscure secrecy reasons, almost nothing was reported to specialists about this object. It has been identified as a small, gradually spreading impact cloud. An analysis of the reprocessed images taken at the AbAO has revealed the exact coordinates of the Luna-5 impact for the first time to be 1.35° S, 25.48° W, which differ substantially the calculation data published earlier. Some properties of the regolith at the Luna-5 impact site are compared to the results of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) related to the region near the south pole of the Moon and reported in 2010.
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