August 3, 2014

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50 Years and a Bit

image by NASA NSSSDC

Oops! I overlooked the first success of the American lunar program - the impact of Ranger 7 onto Mare Nubium on July 31, 1964. These are the first and the last of 4,308 photographs taken during the last 17 minutes of the mission. The first image was nearly comparable to good telescopic images of the time, but as Gerard Kuiper exclaimed at the press conference soon after the impact, the mission acquired pictures that were not ten times better than what we see from Earth, not a hundred times, but a thousand times. I was a student assistant at Kuiper's lab, the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson at the time, measuring craters for the System of Lunar Craters catalog and maps. We had watched the live images on TV, and were stunned, not really thinking that craters would exist to such small diameters. When Kuiper returned from JPL and showed us the photographic prints, I remember saying that we would have a lot more craters to measure. And we did.

Chuck Wood

Related Links
LPOD's commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Ranger 7 - it has a better text than today's LPOD!
21st Century Atlas chart 16.

Yesterday's LPOD: Subjective Observing

Tomorrow's LPOD: Inspiration To Observe


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