February 5, 2015

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Originally published February 5, 2004



The trouble with NASA and space exploration is that its lingua franca is jargon and acronyms. "LO III" means nothing to hardly anyone except the spaceniks who remember or read of the remarkable robotic successes that preceded Apollo landings. A series of five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft were designed principally to identify safe landing sites for the first few Apollo landings. Lunar Orbiter III, launched at 0117 GMT 37 years ago today, was a lightweight spacecraft with two cameras - 610-mm focal length for high resolution (1 m) and a 80-mm medium resolution for context. It concluded landing site documentation, freeing up the last two Orbiters for systematic imaging of nearly the entire lunar surface. The image above includes the Surveyor 1 lander but a magnifying glass is required on the full resolution frame. The area is near the crater Flamsteed in Oceanus Procellarum and the largest crater is about 1 km wide.

Related Links:
LO III at NSSDC (another acronym!)
DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program

Yesterday's LPOD: Copernicus!

Tomorrow's LPOD: New and Old All Together

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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