area "Mare Cognitum." Ranger Vlll sent close-up photographs of additicnal areas before it
hed into the western part of Mare Tranquilli-
tis-the Sea of Tranquility-on February 20,1965. Ranger
transmitted close-range photo-graphs of the crater Alphonsus on March 24,1965 before it crashed into the crater.
OPENS NEW ERA
Although relatively near earth as compared toother celestial bodies, the moon is fundamentallystill a scientific mystery. Astronomers havemapped the moon's visible face and have namedits perceptible craters, mountains, valleys, andplains. But, unable to discern the fine detailsof the lunar surface, they debate its structure andstrength.As a result, engineers designing the landinggear for the Surveyor soft-landing spacecraftand the Apollo section that American explorerswill land on the moon's surface (the section
rglled the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM) areIncerned whether a landing site that appearsfrom earth to be smooth and firm
actually so.They ask whether it could be a vast dust bowlcapable of engulfing a spacecraft. They wonderwhether it
strewn with boulders or pitted withcraters too small to be seen from earth.Ranger opened a new era in lunar astronomyby sending pictures of the moon showing features2000 times smaller than previously detectablethrough earth based telescopes. Dr. Gerard
Kuiper, who heads a team of scientific investi-gators studying the Ranger photographs, pre-sented an interim report on Ranger VII onAugust 28, 1964.Highlights of the report:
The seemingly smooth Sea of Clouds
dotted by thousands of small craters that do notshow up on photographs taken through tele-scopes on earth.
An outlying ray of the Crater Tycho
peppered with craters. Lunar rays appearugh earth telescopes as light streaks radiatingsome craters.
With the exception of several chunks ofmatter in one crater, no boulders were visible.
NASA FACTS Vol.
Photograph of moon (above) outlines aiming point area in
of Clouds where Ranger VII landed at
Map (below photograph) shows targeted and actual impactpoints, which ore about
Also notable was the absence of fissures in thelunar surface.
Based on a study of pictures taken about1600 feet above the moon,
percent of theslopes of the lunar surface are calculated to bebetween one and fifteen degrees. This appearsto be more level than previously anticipated.
While some areas are clearly unsafe forlanding, others are believed to be sufficientlylevel and smooth for touchdown by the ApolloLunar Excursion Module as presently designed;however, no knowledge of the surface strengthcould be obtained from the Ranger photographs.