April 21, 2015
On the Moon
Originally published April 20, 2004
Image Credit: Phillip Stooke
On the Moon
This panoramic image shows the Surveyor 3 landing site, later visited by the Apollo 12 astronauts. The bland appearance is largely the result of a high sun angle, but dust on the camera mirror also reduced image quality. Surveyor 3's small vernier landing rockets did not shut down as planned just above the surface, causing the spacecraft to land and take off again twice. Finally the flight controllers sent a command to turn off the verniers and Surveyor came to rest, but dust thrown up by the rocket exhaust contaminated the camera mirror and may have partly clogged the pointing mechanism. As a result the images were reduced in both number and quality, and the camera could not move fully to the left to complete the panorama. At the bottom of the scene two trenches are visible, dug by a robotic arm which is not visible here. This was the first operation of a remotely-controlled arm ever undertaken on another world. Surveyor 3 landed April 20, 1967.
Yesterday's LPOD: Elger's Journal - or Goodacre's?
Tomorrow's LPOD: A Boisterous Astronaut
Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood