Goals: Luna 12 was designed to take high-resolution photos of the Moon's surface from lunar orbit.

Accomplishments: Luna 12 succeeded in photographing part of the lunar surface at a resolution down to 15 to 20 meters, the best to date. Like NASA's Lunar Orbiter 1, it used a film process rather than a TV camera. Following its main imaging mission, it used its scientific instruments to measure radiation, magnetism, and frequency of meteoroid impacts in the lunar environment.

22 Oct 1966: Launch
19 Jan 1967: End of Lunar Mission


Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: 8K78M (no. N103-44)
Launch Site: NIIP-5 / launch site 31
Spacecraft Mass: 1,620 kg at launch, 1,136 kg in lunar orbit
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system; 2) gamma-ray detector; 3) magnetometer; 4) radiation detectors; 5) infrared radiometer; 6) meteoroid detectors and 7) R-1 gear transmission experiment
References:
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi

National Space Science Data Center, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Solar System Log by Andrew Wilson, published 1987 by Jane's Publishing Co. Ltd.


Luna 12 was launched to complete the mission that Luna 11 had failed to accomplish: take high-resolution photos of the Moon's surface from lunar orbit.

Luna 12 successfully reached the Moon on 25 October 1966 and entered a 133 x 1,200-kilometer orbit.

The Soviet press released the first photos taken of the surface on 29 October, pictures that showed the Sea of Rains and the Aristarchus crater. Resolution was as high as 15 to 20 meters. Film was developed, fixed, dried automatically, and scanned for transmission to Earth. No further photos were ever released.

After completing its main imaging mission, Luna 12 was put into a spin-stabilized roll to carry out its scientific mission, which was fulfilled quite successfully. Contact was finally lost on 19 January 1967 after 302 communications sessions.

Solar System News