- Surveyor Program
The Surveyor Program was a
NASAprogram that, from 1966 through 1968, sent seven robotic spacecraftto the surface of the Moon. Its primary goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of soft landings on the Moon. The program was implemented by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL) to prepare for the Apollo Program. The spacecraft are still on the Moon; none of the missions included returning them to Earth. Some parts of Surveyor 3were returned to Earth by Apollo 12. The camera is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.
The program performed several other services beyond its primary goal of demonstrating soft landings. The ability of spacecraft to make midcourse corrections was demonstrated, and the landers carried instruments to help evaluate the suitability of their landing sites for manned Apollo landings. Several Surveyor spacecraft had robotic shovels designed to test lunar soil mechanics. Before this project, it was unknown how deep the dust on the moon was. If the dust was too deep, then no astronaut could land. The Surveyor program proved that landings were possible. Some of the Surveyors also had alpha scattering instruments and magnets, which helped determine the chemical composition of the soil.
There were seven Surveyor missions; five were successful. Surveyors 2 and 4 failed. Each consisted of a single unmanned spacecraft designed and built by
Hughes Aircraft Company.
Surveyor 1- Launched May 30, 1966; landed on Oceanus Procellarum, June 2, 1966
Surveyor 2- Launched September 20, 1966; crashed near Copernicus crater, September 23, 1966
Surveyor 3- Launched April 17, 1967; landed on Oceanus Procellarum, April 20, 1967
Surveyor 4- Launched July 14, 1967; crashed on Sinus Medii, July 17, 1967
Surveyor 5- Launched September 3, 1967; landed on Mare Tranquillitatis, September 11, 1967
Surveyor 6- Launched November 7, 1967; landed on Sinus Medii, November 10, 1967
Surveyor 7- Launched January 7, 1968; landed near Tycho crater, January 10, 1968
Surveyor 6 was the first spacecraft to lift off from the Moon's surface, and
Apollo 12landed within walking distance of the Surveyor 3landing site.
Space Race competition
During the time of the Surveyor missions, the
United Stateswas actively involved in a Space Racewith the Soviet Union. Thus the Surveyor 1 landing in June 1966, only four months after the Soviet Luna 9probe landed in February, was an indication the programs were at similar stages.
* [http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=Surveyor Surveyor Program Page] by [http://solarsystem.nasa.gov NASA's Solar System Exploration]
* [http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19690027073_1969027073.pdf Surveyor Program Results (PDF) 1969]
* [http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19720019081_1972019081.pdf Analysis of Surveyor 3 material and photographs returned by Apollo 12 (PDF) 1972]
* [http://www.lpi.usra.edu/expmoon/surveyor/surveyor.html Exploring the Moon: The Surveyor Program]
Atlas (rocket family)
Lunar Orbiter program
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