Vernadsky Institute Laboratory fo Comparative Planetology Planets

Lunokhod 1:

The position of the first soviet rover


A. M. Abdrakhimov, A. T. Basilevsky

 Laboratory for comparative planetology, Vernadsky Institute, Russian Academy of Science

March 17, 2010

Figure 1. Lunokhod model at Lavochkin's museum (Photo Slyuta E.V.).


Lunokhod 1 (Fig. 1) began with driving south from its landing site (Luna 17). After two lunations it stopped at its southernmost point in a 150 m diameter crater. On the 3rd lunation it returned to the lander (Luna 17). On the 4th lunation it moved towards the north and spent 3 lunations exploring the largest craters it encountered. It drove around the rim of a roughly 500 m diameter subdued crater during this time. Last lunations Lunokhod 1 was driven further north around a craters cluster (Fig. 2).


Fig.2 Fig.3
Figure 2. Schematic map of Lunkhod 1 route made based on analysis of the Lunokhod navigation records and TV panoramas [Peredvijnaya laboratoriya na Lune Lunokhod-1, 1977].
Figure 3. Figure shows a larger fragment of the M114185541RC image [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University] with superposed route map of Figure 2. These two documents remarkably fit each other in sense of Luna 17 to Lunokhod 1 distance and demanded only slight azimuth rotation for complete compatibility.

Operations ceased when the internal radioactive heat source was exhausted during the 11th lunation.


Unfortunately due to failure of laser retroreflector experiment recently it is not exactly known the Lunokhod 1 position.


Figure 4. Lunation 3. Session 7. Panorama 19. Lunar lander Luna 17.

Now using the opened data of LRO camera we found the exact position of the first soviet lunar rover Lunokhod 1 and its lander Luna 17 (Fig. 5,6).



Fig.5 Fig.6
Figure 5. Fragment of the LROC NAC M114185541RC image [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University]with resolution 0.514 meter per pixel and the bright spot of the lander. Some dark bands close to the lander are tracks of Lunokhod. Approximate coordinates: 38.2473 N, 325.002 E .
Figure 6. Figure shows another fragment of LROC NAC M114185541RC image [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University] with Lunokhod 1 seen in it as a bright spot with prominent shadow of its cap with solar batteries on it. Approximate coordinates: 38.32507 N, 324.9949 E.

The position of the lander Luna 17 is estimated as 38.2473 N, 325.002 E (Fig. 4).


The position of the lander Lunokhod 1 is estimated as 38.32507 N, 324.9949 E (Fig. 5).


The coordinates will be corrected more precisely soon.




March 17, 2010


A. M. Abdrakhimov, A. T. Basilevsky


Vernadsky Institute, Russia, 119991, Kosygina 19, alexander_basilevsky @




P.S. Independently the position of Lunokhod 1 was found by Mark Robinson and his colleagues of NASA LROC command (see more details ...). Our congratulations to LRO command - they made the great leap for the lunar science.