Way of the "Moon-1"

    On January 2, 1959, the Luna-1 station set off. It was the first station to reach second space velocity and the first station to fly past the moon. According to data from her instruments, it was shown that the moon does not have a magnetic field and the solar wind was open. Even the fact that she did not hit the moon due to an error is now perceived as a plus. Due to this, it is safe and sound now flying in its orbit between the Earth and Mars.

    Well, I decided to try to restore the trajectory of her flight based on archival materials.

    The scientists and engineers who prepared the TASS messages clearly ran into an unexpected problem. How to indicate the coordinates of the station during the flight? Her flight was covered in great detail and it was necessary to indicate the coordinates in such a way that any person could find in the sky the point at which the earthly messenger to space is. It is customary for astronomers to show coordinates on right ascension and declination (an analogue of latitude and longitude on Earth), but here they did not fit well. They are good only for indicating very, very distant objects. As a result, it was decided to tie the coordinates not to the sky, but to the Earth. And indicate over which of the points the station will be at a given time and at what altitude.

    To control the trajectory and determine the coordinates used an automated system designed to determine the trajectory of ballistic missiles

    The scan to the surface of the Earth looked like this:


    And if you collect all the information from the TASS message, you can select such points

    on January

    3 at 3 o’clock: 3 degrees 12 minutes south and 108 degrees east 100,000 km from the Earth [1]
    6 hours: 4 degrees 30 minutes S and 63.5 degrees E 137,000 km from Earth [3]
    13 hours: 7 degrees 33 minutes south and 40 degrees west; 209,000 km from Earth [4]
    16 hours: 8 degrees 20 minutes south and 86 (85) degrees west d 237 000 km from the Earth
    19 hours 8 degrees 57 minutes S and 131 (130) degrees W 265 000 km from the Earth [5]
    21 hours 9 degrees 18 minutes S and 160 degrees W 284 000 km from the Earth [6]

    January 4 at
    0 o’clock: 9 degrees 45 minutes south and 155 degrees east 311,000 km from Earth
    3 hours: 10 degrees 7 minutes S and 110 degrees E 336,600 km from Earth

    At 5 hours 57 minutes the rocket passed at a minimum distance from the Moon (5-6 thousand km) and became a satellite of the Sun [7]. After that, TASS began to publish its coordinates in astronomical coordinates. Although part of the coordinates, as can be seen in the diagram, were recounted and

    on January 5 at 10 o'clock in the Earth , its batteries went dead and communication with it ceased.

    A few comments. In square brackets are marked the numbers of similar points on the map of the Earth.
    Two parentheses indicate more precise coordinates. Just when analyzing the data, it turned out that they noticeably knocked out of the general trajectory. It appears that there was a 1 degree west longitude error in the TASS message.

    Knowing this data and the Earth’s rotation speed, you can rebuild them into three-dimensional coordinates, and then visualize the trajectory.

    I got such a trajectory.

    The flight path is very large and I had to “play” with the coefficients for a long time in order to show the curvature of the trajectory. Happened here this picture

    The second point in this figure stands out markedly. I just tried to take into account the moment of the launch of the artificial sodium comet. Unfortunately, due to the cloudiness over the USSR at that time (it was photographed at only one observatory), and also because only 10% of all sodium was atomized, the coordinates are not very accurate.

    Having processed the result a little, I drew such a scheme:

    In general, it is quite clearly visible how the station and the moon move to the place of their meeting. And if you carefully study the trajectory of the "Moon-1", you can notice the bend after meeting it with the Moon. The gravitational field of the moon has sufficiently changed its trajectory so that this can be seen even in such an approximate diagram.

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