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Imaging System

NSSDCA ID: 1966-078A-01

Mission Name: Luna 11


The Imaging System consisted of a camera, film spool, developer apparatus, and scan/transmission system, mounted to the side of the spacecraft, with the camera pointing downward in the direction of the main engine. The camera used 25.4 mm photographic film, which was spooled into the camera, exposed, fixed, and dried onboard, and then scanned by a facsimile television system, with the scans saved and later transmitted to Earth. The system could scan and transmit in two modes, a high-resolution mode with 1100 scan lines, which took about 34 minutes to transmit, and a low-resolution (quick-look) mode, which used only 67 scan lines and took 135 seconds to transmit. The high resolution images covered an area of 52 square km with a resolution of 14.9-19.8 m.

The pictures were all taken within hours of the spacecraft entering lunar orbit, because the film was sensitive to the radiation environment and had to be used quickly. The quick-look images would be transmitted first, and the high-resolution images would be transmitted later. The images were actually transmitted over two different frequencies, which were alternated on a schedule known only to the Soviet ground stations, so that they could not be intercepted by the receivers at Jodrell Bank, England.

Approximately 3 hours after orbit insertion, an attitude control maneuver to position Luna 11 in the correct orientation for lunar photography failed, the imager was not pointed towards the Moon, and the camera took 64 images of black space.

Alternate Names

  • Luna11/ImagingSystem


  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



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