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Luna 20
Luna 20 Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: Luna 20 was to conduct the mission that Luna 18 was unable to complete: obtain a soil sample from the lunar highlands and bring it to Earth for comparison with Luna 16's sample from a mare site.

Accomplishments: The spacecraft succeeded in making a soft landing (less than 2 km from where Luna 18 crashed), drilling a soil sample, and bringing it to Earth. Analysis determined that most of the rock particles in the sample were ancient anorthosite rather than the basalt that predominated in Luna 16's sample. Soviet investigators were particularly excited by the discovery of very pure iron.


Key Dates
14 Feb 1972:  Launch
25 Feb 1972:  Samples Returned to Earth
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Luna 20 Facts This was the second successful robotic sample return mission.

The small spherical sample capsule parachuted down safely on an island in the Karkingir River in Kazakhstan.

Two grams of Luna 20's sample (above) were presented to NASA in exchange for one gram of lunar material collected by Apollo 15 astronauts.
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Last Updated: 18 Jan 2011