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NSSDCA ID: 1972-007A-02

Mission Name: Luna 20


The Luna 20 drill was a thin-walled tube carrying helical threads on its outside surface and a crown on sharp teeth at its cutting end. The drill was equipped with two special mechanisms, one for capturing hard core samples and the other for holding loose material. It operated at 500 rpm, and it took 30 min for the entire length of the drill to penetrate any kind of soil. The drill was provided with thermal insulation and was hermetically sealed to avoid the sticking together of metallic surfaces in contact and the adhesion of lunar soil to it. It was opened only before drilling. This made it possible to lubricate working mechanisims during drilling by oil vapor, i.e., a substance that evaporates in a vacuum. Certain parts were covered with a lubricant that lowered friction in a vacuum. The rod was first put in a vertical position, and then was slowly moved counterclockwise through a 180-deg angle. It was then lowered to the surface. If progress was stopped, a standby motor was employed to overcome the obstacle. The drill penetrated to a depth of 250 mm in the lunar surface, and its contents were returned to earth on February 25, 1972. The sample was placed in a special ampule and was hermetically sealed on the moon.

Alternate Names

  • Luna20/Drill

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (U.S.S.R)


  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

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