Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies and Discoveries

Springer Science & Business Media
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Soviet Robots in the Solar System provides a history of the Soviet robotic lunar and planetary exploration program from its inception, with the attempted launch of a lunar impactor on September 23, 1958, to the last launch in the Russian national scientific space program in the 20th Century, Mars 96, on November 16, 1996. This title makes a unique contribution to understanding the scientific and engineering accomplishments of the Soviet Union’s robotic space exploration enterprise from its infancy to its demise with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The authors provide a comprehensive account of Soviet robotic exploration of the Solar System for both popular space enthusiasts and professionals in the field. Technical details and science results are provided and put into an historical and political perspective in a single volume for the first time. The book is divided into two parts. Part I describes the key players and the key institutions that build and operate the hardware, the rockets that provide access to space, and the spacecraft that carry out the enterprise. Part II is about putting these pieces together to enable space flight and mission campaigns. Part II is written in chronological order beginning with the first launches to the Moon. Each chapter covers a particular period when specific mission campaigns were undertaken during celestially-determined launch windows. Each chapter begins with a short overview of the flight missions that occurred during the time period and the political and historical context for the flight mission campaigns, including what the Americans were doing at the time. The bulk of each chapter is devoted to the scientific and engineering details of that flight campaign. The spacecraft and payloads are examined with as much technical detail as is available today, the progress is described, and a synopsis of the scientific result is given.
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About the author

Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., is currently Director Emeritus at the Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The author was the widely respected Director of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Directorate from 1990 to 1992, and then Associate Administrator for Space Science from 1993 to 1998, where he was responsible for all of NASA’s robotic science missions. During this time, and throughout his long and distinguished career, Dr. Huntress, Jr. has had a regular and sustained contact and interaction with the Russians. He has gained great appreciation of the Russian robotic exploration program of the Moon and the planets during the 20th century.

Mikhail Marov is a long-time veteran of the Soviet scientific space program with experience on many past missions beginning the early 1970s and is currently at the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry in Moscow, one of the two principal scientific institutes involved in the Russian space program. He is well known internationally and is one of the most recognizable Russian experts in space science and exploration around the world.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Springer Science & Business Media
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Published on
Jun 28, 2011
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Pages
453
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ISBN
9781441978981
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Nature / Sky Observation
Science / Astronomy
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
Technology & Engineering / Aeronautics & Astronautics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The technology of the next few decades could possibly allow us to explore with robotic probes the closest stars outside our Solar System, and maybe even observe some of the recently discovered planets circling these stars. This book looks at the reasons for exploring our stellar neighbors and at the technologies we are developing to build space probes that can traverse the enormous distances between the stars.

In order to reach the nearest stars, we must first develop a propulsion technology that would take our robotic probes there in a reasonable time. Such propulsion technology has radically different requirements from conventional chemical rockets, because of the enormous distances that must be crossed. Surprisingly, many propulsion schemes for interstellar travel have been suggested and await only practical engineering solutions and the political will to make them a reality. This is a result of the tremendous advances in astrophysics that have been made in recent decades and the perseverance and imagination of tenacious theoretical physicists. This book explores these different propulsion schemes – all based on current physics – and the challenges they present to physicists, engineers, and space exploration entrepreneurs.

This book will be helpful to anyone who really wants to understand the principles behind and likely future course of interstellar travel and who wants to recognizes the distinctions between pure fantasy (such as Star Trek’s ‘warp drive’) and methods that are grounded in real physics and offer practical technological solutions for exploring the stars in the decades to come.

Brian Harvey recounts for the first time the definitive history of scientific Russian space probes and the knowledge they acquired of the Earth, its environment, the Moon, Mars and Venus. He examines what Russian Space Science has actually achieved in furthering our knowledge of the Solar System, focusing on the instrumentation and scientific objectives and outcomes, the information gained and lessons learnt. Boxes and charts are used extensively in order to convey in an easily understandable manner for the non-scientific reader the problems and issues addressed and solved by Soviet space science. The book opens with the story of early space science in Russia, which started when the first Russian rockets were fired into the high atmosphere from Kapustin Yar in the late 1940s. Instruments were carried to measure and map the atmosphere and later rockets carried dogs to test their reactions to weightlessness. In order to beat America into Earth orbit, two simpler satellites than originally planned were launched, Sputnik and Sputnik 2, which provided some initial information on atmospheric density, while the following Sputnik 3 carried twelve instruments to measure radiation belts, solar radiation, the density of the atmosphere and the Earth’s magnetic field. The author recounts how, by the 1960s, the Soviet Union had developed a program of investigation of near-Earth space using satellites within the Cosmos program, in particular the DS (Dnepropetrovsky Sputnik), small satellites developed to investigate meteoroids, radiation, the magnetic fields, the upper atmosphere, solar activity, ionosphere, charged particles, cosmic rays and geophysics. Brian Harvey then gives the scientific results from Russian lunar exploration, starting with the discovery of the solar wind by the First Cosmic Ship and the initial mapping of the lunar far side by the Automatic Interplanetary Station. He describes Luna 10, which made the first full study of the lunar environment, Luna 16 which brought soil back to Earth and the two Moon rovers which travelled 50 kms across the lunar surface taking thousands of measurements, soil analyses and photographs, as well as profiles of discrete areas. Chapters 4 and 5 describe in detail the scientific outcomes of the missions to Venus and Mars, before considering the orbiting space stations in Chapter 6. Space science formed an important part of the early manned space program, the prime focus being the human reaction to weightlessness, how long people could stay in orbit and the effects on the body, as well as radiation exposure. Chapter 7 looks at the later stage of Soviet and Russian space science, including Astron and Granat, the two observatories of the 1980s, and Bion, the space biology program which flew monkeys and other animals into orbit. The final chapter looks forward to a new period of Russian space science with the Spektr series of observatories and a range smaller science satellites under the Federal Space Plan 2006-2015.
Russia’s accomplishments in planetary space exploration were not achieved easily. Formerly, the USSR experienced frustration in trying to tame unreliable Molniya and Proton upper stages and in tracking spacecraft over long distances. This book will assess the scientific haul of data from the Venus and Mars missions and look at the engineering approaches. The USSR developed several generations of planetary probes: from MV and Zond to the Phobos type. The engineering techniques used and the science packages are examined, as well as the nature of the difficulties encountered which ruined several missions. The programme’s scientific and engineering legacy is also addressed, as well as its role within the Soviet space programme as a whole.

Brian Harvey concludes by looking forward to future Russian planetary exploration (e.g Phobos Grunt sample return mission). Several plans have been considered and may, with a restoration of funding, come to fruition. Soviet studies of deep space and Mars missions (e.g. TMK, Aelita) have much to offer contemporary planners in Europe and the United States. Long-duration ISS and Mir missions provide a medical record of considerable value in constructing human exploration of Mars.

Illustrated with the photographs taken by Soviet Venus and Mars probes, pictures of the spacecraft, diagrams of the flight paths and landing techniques and maps of the landing sites, the book will build on the published scientific papers from the programme, archived material and memoirs and other material coming to light in recent years.

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