|Major contractors||GSMZ Lavochkin|
|Mission type||Lunar Science: lunar sample return|
|Launch date||9 August 1976 15:04:12 UTC|
|Carrier rocket||Proton 8K82K + Blok D|
|Launch site||Baikonur Cosmodrome|
|Mission duration||13 days|
|Orbital insertion date||14 August 1976|
|Landing||22 August 1976 17:55 UTC|
|Landing site||200 km (120 mi) SE of Surgut
in western Siberia
|Mass||5,800 kg (13,000 lb)|
|Semimajor axis||6,492.8 km (4,034.4 mi)|
|Apoapsis||115 km (71 mi)|
|Periapsis||115 km (71 mi)|
|Orbital period||119 minutes|
|Date||18 August 1976 06:36 UTC|
|Departure||19 August 1976 05:25 UTC|
|Main instruments||Stereo photographic imaging system
Improved drill/Remote arm for sample collection
|References: NASA NSSDC Master Catalog|
Luna 24 (Ye-8-5M series) was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna programme, also called Lunik 24. The last of the Luna series of spacecraft, the mission of the Luna 24 probe was the third Soviet mission to retrieve lunar soil samples from the Earth's moon (the first two sample return missions were Luna 16 and Luna 20). The spacecraft orbital dry mass was 4,800 kg (11,000 lb).
The probe landed in the area known as Mare Crisium (Sea of Crisis). The mission returned 170.1 grams of lunar samples to the Earth on 22 August 1976.
|Luna 16||101 g||1970|
|Luna 20||55 g||1972|
|Luna 24||170 g||1976|
Luna 24 was the third attempt to recover a sample from the unexplored Mare Crisium, the location of a large lunar mascon (after Luna 23 and a launch failure in October 1975). After a trajectory correction on 11 August 1976, Luna 24 entered lunar orbit three days later. Initial orbital parameters were 115 × 115 kilometres at 120° inclination. After further changes to its orbit, Luna 24 set down safely on the lunar surface at 06:36 UT on 18 August 1976 at 12°45' north latitude and 62°12' east longitude, not far from where Luna 23 had landed.
Under command from ground control, the lander deployed its sample arm and pushed its drilling head about 2 metres into the nearby soil. The sample was safely stowed in the small return capsule, and after nearly a day on the Moon, Luna 24 lifted off successfully at 05:25 UT on 19 August 1976. After an uneventful return trip, Luna 24's capsule entered Earth's atmosphere and parachuted safely to land at 17:55 UT on 22 August 1976, about 200 kilometres southeast of Surgut in western Siberia. Study of the recovered 170.1 grams of soil indicated a laminated type structure, as if laid down in successive deposits. The Soviet Union swapped a gram of the mission sample for a lunar sample from NASA in December 1976.
Luna 24 was the last lunar spacecraft to be launched by the Soviet Union. As of 2012[update], it is also the last spacecraft from any country to have made a soft landing on the Moon. The Chinese Chang'e 3 rover is planned for sometime in 2013.
- Solar System Exploration: Missions: By Nation: USSR: Luna 24 solarsystem.nasa.gov. Retrieved: 2011-11-09.
- Zarya - Luna 24 chronology
- "Soviet Moon Lander Discovered Water on The Moon in 1976". The Physics arXiv Blog. Technology Review. May 30, 2012.
|Luna programme||Succeeded by
Last of series