Penetrator (space probe)

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Mars 96 penetrator
Deep Space 2 penetrator

As penetrator a is spacecraft designated, up to a few meters drilled at a landing in the unbraked to be examined celestial bodies and leaves on the surface a communication module, which is connected via cable to the lower part of the probe. The term is derived from the Latin root word penetrare (= to penetrate, to penetrate).

With this technology, inexpensive landers are to examine the soil conditions of planets , asteroids and comets . Technically, these devices require a very robust construction, since when penetrating the ground, accelerations of several thousand times the acceleration due to gravity occur (e.g. with Deep Space 2 : 30,000  g for the penetrating part of the penetrator and 60,000  g for the communication unit remaining on the surface ). So far, no penetrator has been successfully used in a space mission, but corresponding experiments have been successfully carried out on Earth.

Space probes equipped with penetrators



  • Luna-Glob - a Russian space probe equipped with twelve penetrators to study the moon. The start was planned for 2015. It has now been postponed to 2024 and the penetrators have been canceled according to current planning.


  • LUNAR-A - was a Japanese space probe with two penetrators for the investigation of the earth's moon , launch should take place after many shifts in 2010. However, the probe was canceled in 2007. However, the penetrators could be used on a lunar probe from another nation or another Japanese probe.
  • SELENE-2 - a Japanese unmanned lunar mission from the JAXA space agency . The start was planned for 2017. However, the mission was canceled in 2015.


  • Norbert I. Kömle: Penetrometry in the solar system. Verl. Der Österr. Akad. Der Wissenschaften, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-7001-2968-8 .
  • Günter Kargl. et al .: Penetrometry in the solar system II. Austrian Acad. of Sciences Press - ÖAW, Vienna 2009, ISBN 978-3-7001-6531-6 .

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