Luna 21 Lander

LROC NAC Image M122007650LE of the Luna 21 lander showing Lunokhod 2 rover tracks around it from 1973
Luna 21 lander delivered the Lunokhod 2 rover to the floor of Le Monnier crater in January 1973, LROC NAC Image M122007650LE [NASA/GSFC/ Arizona State University].

The Luna 21 spacecraft landed in Le Monnier crater on 15 January 1973 delivering the Soviet Union’s second rover - Lunokhod 2 to the lunar surface (LROC Image of Lunokhod 2 rover). Luna 21 had a landed mass of 1900 kg and is about 2.3 m long; its overall diameter is about 3.3 m including the landing legs. The NAC image shows the typical descent engine scour around the vehicle with a bright zone extending out some 10-20 m.

The landing site is 5-6 km north of the mare highlands boundary; the rolling hills of the highlands are visible in the distance from the lander.

View toward the south from the landing site showing the highlands along the southern margin of Le Monnier crater.

The lander is oriented northwest and the rover drove off in that direction.  Its tracks are clearly visible. Several maneuvers were made around the lander to examine the local terrain and photograph the lander.

Side view of the Luna 21 lander with the ramps deployed. The rover drove off the lander to the right.

Luna 21 lander seen from the Lunokhod 2 rover.

The rover tracks show variations in surface properties - in some locations the tracks are shallow where the regolith was hard; in other places the tracks are deep and considerable material disturbed where the regolith was soft.

Arrow denotes location of tracks shown in next image.

The circular tracks were specifically made to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Lunokhod surface photos from V.I. Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry web site.

Explore the entire NAC frame and find Luna 21 on your own!

Published by Jeff Plescia on 19 March 2010