KFU’s Moon navigation system is of use to Russia’s Luna 25 lunar lander mission – Kazan Federal University


Director of KFU’s Engelhardt Observatory Yury Nefedyev gave comments on the latest launch which made waves in the news.

Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle successfully delivered Luna 25 to the Earth’s orbit from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Amur Oblast. The lander should then proceed to the Moon’s polar orbit and choose an optimal landing spot near our’s satellite’s South Pole. Luna 25 was designed by NPO Lavochkin and the Institute of Space Research. Soviet Union’s last lander visited the Moon in 1976.

Dr Nefedyev opined, “In the Soviet Union, soft landings were performed, but almost 50 years have passed, and the technology had to be developed anew. Unfortunately, for half a century we have not dealt with the Moon in terms of its space exploration. The Luna 25 is the beginning of a Russian mission to explore the natural satellite. The mission will study the surface layer of the Moon at the module’s landing site, the Moon’s atmosphere, the dust component and other factors.”

Senior Research Associate Natalya Dyomina (Laboratory of Space Navigation and Planetary Systems) is at the helm of a lunar navigation project funded by Russian Science Foundation. This is a so-called integrated digital model of selenographic navigation support of the near-lunar satellite system based on data from modern space missions, high-precision theory of lunar dynamics, synthetic method of robust estimation of heterogeneous observations and use of a set of quantum-optical and satellite onboard optical facilities.

As Dr Nefedyev informed, the University continues its research of space coordinates – both for star-anchored and lunar surface-anchored coordination. “It’s a daunting task. We are trying to increase precision to several meters by attaching laser beacons to lunar missions,” he noted.

On Luna 25, an angle reflector serves the same purpose. It’s a joint Russian-Chinese project – the Chinese colleagues will use their telescope to ‘shoot’ the reflector and thus increase the navigation-time measurement condition on the lunar surface.

The main objective is to determine the best landing spots – which can later serve as locations for unmanned station. A human can only live on the Moon for two weeks in a row because of severe radiation.

“Lunar impact craters have immense reserves of rare Earth elements. As we and Moscow State University colleagues have estimated, some of them may be depleted on Earth in the next thirty years,” warned Nefedyev.

If humankind learns to reliably extract and transport helium-3 – which is abundant on the Moon – it can be provided with energy without any need for oil and gas, opined the interviewee.

“All efforts by existing space powers are directed towards firmly establishing themselves on celestial objects. Our group is the only in Russia to consistently work on Moon navigation and resource studies. We hope to use Luna 25’s results to check our data,” concluded Nefedyev.


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