Surveyor Program


Surveyor Program

The Surveyor Program was a NASA program that, from 1966 through 1968, sent seven robotic spacecraft to 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 3 were returned to Earth by Apollo 12. The camera is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.

Goals

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.

Missions

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 12 landed within walking distance of the Surveyor 3 landing site.

Space Race competition

During the time of the Surveyor missions, the United States was actively involved in a Space Race with the Soviet Union. Thus the Surveyor 1 landing in June 1966, only four months after the Soviet Luna 9 probe landed in February, was an indication the programs were at similar stages.

External links

* [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]

ee also

*Apollo program
*Atlas (rocket family)
*Luna programme
*Lunar Orbiter program
*Ranger program


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