July 9, 2004

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On the Mare


Image Credit: Phillip Stooke

On the Mare

Surveyor 1 landed in Oceanus Procellarum on 2 June 1966, near the crater Flamsteed. A 100 km wide 'ghost' crater, Flamsteed P, surrounds the landing site, consisting of a ring of hills which are probably just the peaks of an old crater rim, mostly flooded by mare basalts. Several of these peaks protrude slightly above the horizon north of the spacecraft, and can be seen on the left. The sun is nearly setting in the west, casting a long shadow to the east. This was the first landing by a United States spacecraft, and only the second successful landing on the Moon (the Soviet Union's Luna 9 had landed four months earlier). It is not well known that Surveyor 1 carried a descent imaging camera on one of its legs to photograph the landing site from above in an attempt to help locate the lander. Mission controllers decided not to use it because the very limited transmission bandwidth during descent would not support imaging as well as the other engineering data they were more interested in. Surveyor 2 also carried a descent imager, but it failed before arriving at the Moon. Later Surveyors did not include this camera.

Phillip Stooke

Technical Details:
I scanned the Surveyor 1 panorama from hardcopy prints of panorama segments held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. Like all Surveyor panoramas, they were severely compromised by frame-to-frame contrast variations. These were removed one at a time using Adobe Photoshop, and the cleaned panorama segments were fitted together. This process took over a month - it is not something that can be automated. The final panorama, prepared for a forthcoming atlas of lunar exploration, is 15000 pixels long, and is shown here greatly reduced in size.

Related Links:
Surveyor 1
Phil Stooke's Website

Yesterday's LPOD: Magic on the Mare

Tomorrow's LPOD: Lunie

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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