inches). The light-colored streaks radiating fromCopernicus and a few other large craters turned out tobe chains and nets of small craters and debris blastedout in the primary impacts.In February 1965, Ranger 8 swept an obliquecourse over the south of Oceanus Procellarum andMare Nubium, to crash in Mare Tranquillitatis whereApollo 11 would land 4-1/2 years later. It garneredmore than 7,000 images, covering a wider area andreinforcing the conclusions from Ranger 7. About amonth later, Ranger 9 came down in the 90-kilome-ter-diameter (75-mile) crater Alphonsus. Its 5,800images, nested concentrically and taking advantage of very low-level sunlight, provided strong confirmationof the crater-on-crater, gently rolling contours of thelunar surface.Thus, after a long trouble-plagued start that taughtthe system engineers a great deal and the scientistsvirtually nothing, Project Ranger finished with threeflights that greatly advanced the lunar scientists’knowledge of the surface and whetted their appetitesfor a closer look.
The Surveyor Project
Conceived about the same time as Ranger, theSurveyor project began its development in 1961 withthe selection of Hughes Aircraft Co. as spacecraftsystem contractor to JPL, which managed the project.A different mission, a different launch vehicle and adifferent way of operating the spacecraft werematched by a different way of developing the project.NASA originally contemplated delivering morethan two dozen scientific instruments to the surface of the Moon with a first launch as early as 1963. Sevenmissions to different landing sites were planned forthe first block. A second-generation design, carryinga small lunar roving vehicle, and a non-landing cam-era platform to map the whole moon from orbit werestudied and begun.As a near-contemporary of Ranger, the Surveyorproject was also an engineering and systems experi-ment. It would test the high-energy Atlas/Centaurlaunch vehicle; a new spacecraft design; spacecraftactivities directed from the ground, as contrasted withthe fixed computer sequence employed in Ranger;and a new and elegant robotic landing method, withthree steerable rocket engines controlled by a four-beam spacecraft radar.Delayed repeatedly by the extended developmentof the launch vehicle’s Centaur booster and the diffi-culties of its own development, Surveyor underwentmany evolutions of management, engineering and sci-ence before successfully landing with a remote-con-trolled TV camera at Flamsteed in OceanusProcellarum in June 1966.The first image from Surveyor 1 showed its ownlanding foot firmly planted upon lunar soil, muteproof that landing was possible. Detail as small as 2millimeters (1/12 inch) could bee seen at the closestrange. Panoramic mosaics compiled from many of thefirst Surveyor’s 11,240 TV frames eventually showednearly the entire landing region, out to the horizon.Eventually the spacecraft survived many lunarday/night cycles, responding to radio communicationsuntil January 1967. Surveyor 2 was not as successful,crashing into the Moon. Surveyor 4’s signal was lost2-1/2 minutes after lunar impact.Surveyor 3, 5, 6 and 7 repeated the initial triumphin different sites and successively added a robot armwith scoop and a chemical element analyzer to thescientific tool kit. The ability to examine lunar soilbelow the surface and to identify mineral compositionin a few sites was scientifically exciting, especiallywhen Surveyor 5’s instrument found basalt and estab-lished some history of lunar melting. The determina-tions of adequate bearing strength in the lunar soilwas important for Apollo planning. However, theimaging capability, accumulating almost 90,000images from five sites, was a very powerful scientificinstrument.The Surveyors observed blocks and craters andother features of the surface down to small size andclose range, under different lighting conditions overperiods of weeks to months. They were able to com-pare different terrain types, from plains and differentmaria (including some future Apollo landing regions)to a small mare crater and finally the flank of thecrater Tycho.All told, three Surveyor lunar stations survived atleast one lunar night. One of the spacecraft bouncedinadvertently on the surface and another was deliber-ately flown a few meters to a second site, extendingthe reach of the instruments providing jet-disturbedsurfaces for examination.3