DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program
[331] The author selected the following pictures and their captions with the advice of Leon J. Kosofsky., former Lunar Orbiter program engineer, and Farouk El-Baz, formerly with Bellcomm, Inc., and now with the Smithsonian Institution. The selection offers a survey of the program's different phases. It does not constitute a scientific analysis of the Moon, but merely samples Lunar Orbiter photographic achievements.
For more detailed, analytical sources, the reader may refer to Leon J. Kosofsky and Farouk El-Baz, The Moon as Viewed by Lunar Orbiter, NASA SP-200, 1970; and J. Kendrick Hughes and David E. Bowker, Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon, NASA SP-206, 1971.
The photographs of the Moon reproduced in this history do not represent the ultimate quality in Lunar Orbiter photography. They have been made from negatives of an unknown generation and therefore their actual resolution is uncertain; lunar Orbiter photos reconstituted from original data had known resolutions. NASA has enhanced Orbiter photography for applications at Langley Research Center and in cooperation with the United States Geological Survey, U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Chart and Information Center, and Army Map Service.
Responsibility for any errors In the brief descriptions accompanying these photos must rest solely with the author.
[332] [PICTURE MISSING] A Lunar Orbiter spacecraft in testing in NASA Hangar S Clean Room at Kennedy Space Center. The spacecraft was mounted on a three-axis test stand with its solar panels deployed. The one-meter-diameter high-gain dish antenna extended from the side of the Orbiter.
[333] [PICTURE MISSING] The spacecraft's main equipment deck and fuel tank deck held vital components. The back of the photographic system casing ("Bathtub") shows below the fuel tanks, and portions of the four solar panels that supplied power to the systems can be seen stretching from beneath the spacecraft.
[334] [PICTURE MISSING] The photographic system of Lunar Orbiter V undergoing tests at Cape Kennedy. Technological capability to compress all necessary components into an eggshell container with a total weight of less than 70 kilograms made the mission possible. The camera had two lenses: a wide-angle, medium-resolution 80 mm Xenotar Schneider-Kreuznach manufactured in West Germany and a 610 mm high-resolution telephoto Panoramic manufactured by Pacific Optical Company. Both were adjustable to the same exposure times of 1/25, 1/50, and 1/100 second. The Kodak special high-definition aerial film, Type SO-243, had a slow exposure index of ASA 1.6. It was extremely fine-grain film, requiring low shutter speeds, but was also less susceptible to radiation fogging. The lenses were protected by a Quartz window and a metal door.
[335] [PICTURE MISSING] Close-up of the Eastman Kodak photographic system. The 610 mm F 5.6 high-resolution lens (left) and the 80 mm F 2.8 medium-resolution lens (right) gave the Lunar Orbiter a dual-imaging capability-the ability to take two kinds of pictures simultaneously on the same film.
[336] [PICTURE MISSING] The processor of the photographic system included three drums. The drum at the upper left held the Kodak Bimat web (processing film). The Bimat, covered with a gelatin layer saturated with a photographic processing solution, was laminated with the exposed camera film on the small drum in the center. In 3.5 minutes it developed and fixed the film. Then it separated from the film and wound onto the spoked take-up reel to the right of the small drum. The camera film passed over the large drying drum at the bottom, where it dried in 11.5 minutes at 35° C before moving to readout.
[337] [PICTURE] The drawing outlines essential steps in a Lunar Orbiter mission following launch and transit to the Moon's vicinity. In step 1 the spacecraft fired its velocity control rocket to make a course correction. In step 2 the rocket fired again to deboost the spacecraft into its initial orbit of the Moon. Here its orbit was adjusted, and the first pictures were made (3) before the Orbiter changed orbital parameters (4) to assume an elliptical orbit that brought it closer to the lunar surface for further photographic coverage (5).
[338] [PICTURE] Steps in the acquisition of photographic data by Lunar Orbiter included transmission to Earth, readout, reconstruction, and reassembly for evaluation.
[339] [PICTURE MISSING] Lunar Orbiter II photographed potential Apollo landing sites.
[340] [PICTURE MISSING] The top photograph is a Lunar Orbiter IV view of Apollo 17 landing region. Below, sites that Lunar Orbiter V photographed in August 1967 are plotted on a chart of the Moon's near side. Sites marked S were science and Surveyor sites. Sites marked A were for Apollo. Sites marked X were designated as bd1ng of interest for the Apollo Applications Program (the lunar exploration part of Apollo Applications was later cancelled.
[341] [PICTURE MISSING] A full view of the Moon photographed from the Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton, California. The area outlined by the white square is the bright crater Tycho. Two Lunar Orbiter V photos of Tycho follow.
[342] [PICTURE MISSING] Lunar Orbiter V photographed the 90-kilometer-wide crater Tycho with the wide-angle medium-resolution lens (frame M-1231 on August 15, 1967. The view looks almost vertically down onto the crater floor and reveals the central peak, a rough floor, and precipitous walls. The spacecraft was 206 kilometers above the surface of the Moon when this and the following photo were taken.
[343] [PICTURE MISSING] A high-resolution telephoto picture of part of the floor of the crater Tycho. The area shown is 11.2 by 12.8 kilometers. Fractures, flow markings, and protruding domelike hills with exposed layers suggest a very young floor. The scarcity of smaller impact craters and absence of signs of erosion support the theory that Tycho is a young impact crater.
[344] [PICTURE MISSING] Copernicus viewed by the 3-meter reflector telescope at Lick Observatory, Mount Hamilton, California, appears as a bull's-eye in this picture. Lunar Orbiter views of this major landmark on the Moon's near side follow.
[345] [PICTURE MISSING] Lunar Orbiter II recorded this oblique view of the crater Copernicus while flying at 43.8 kilometers altitude, 240 kilometers due south of the crater. In the foreground is the "keyhole" crater Fauth, 20.8 kilometers across and 1,372 meters deep. The southern rim of Copernicus is 42.8 kilometers north of Fauth. Copernicus is 96 kilometers in diameter and reaches a depth of 3,200 meters. The Deep Space Network at Goldstone, California, received this picture on November 28, 1966.)
[346] [PICTURE MISSING] An enlargement of the Preceding Copernicus photo shows mountains rising 300 meters from the crater floor. Cliffs 300 meters high on the crater rim reveal some downslope movement of material. The horizontal distance across the photograph is about 27.4 kilometers; distance from horizon to the base of the photograph is about 240 kilometers. On the horizon are the Carpathian mountains with the 920-meter-high Gay-Lussac Promontory.
[347] [PICTURE MISSING] Lunar Orbiter II photographed a rock field in the southeastern part of Mare Tranquillitatis with the 610 mm high-resolution telephoto lens. This picture was enlarged five times from the original film on which the Orbiter photographic data was recorded on Earth. The 365-by 460-meter area is a portion of Site II P-2. Some of the larger rocks in the lower right-hand corner are 10 meters across.
[348] [PICTURE MISSING] The picture at the left shows the location of the Surveyor I landing site as deduced from horizon features Photographed by the Surveyor. Sites I and II seemed compatible with these features. The base map was USAF Aeronautical Charting and Information Center's Lunar Chart LAC 75.
[349] [PICTURE MISSING] The three photos opposite, taken by Lunar Orbiter III February 22, 1967, enabled NASA to pinpoint the location of Surveyor I. The left photo is of the area north of the crater Flamsteed, where the Surveyor landed June 2, 1966. The black lines point to low mountains photographed by the Surveyor. The center photo is a vertical view of the area outlined in the black rectangle in the oblique picture to the left. The square in the center photo encloses the area of the Surveyor landing site that is pictured greatly enlarged at the right. The magnitude of the light reflected from Surveyor I the long pointed shadow, and the triangulation of Orbiter and Surveyor photos confirmed this as the landed spacecraft.
[350] [PICTURE MISSING] Lunar Orbiter V photographed an area in the Vitello crater (south of Mare Humorum at 30.61° S latitude, 37.57° W longitude) on August 17, 1967. The enlarged portion of that high-resolution telephoto picture reveals two large "rolling stones," whose paths are clearly visible. The larger one near the center of the picture is about 23 meters across and has rolled or bounced some 274 meters. The smaller rock is 4.6 meters across and has traveled 365 meters. Numerous boulder tracks in Orbiter pictures have told scientists much about the soil mechanics of the lunar surface, its cohesiveness and bearing strength, and the possibility of quakes as one cause of rock movement on the Moon.
[351] [PICTURE MISSING] om an altitude of only 56 kilometers Lunar Orbiter III photographed the crater Damoiseau and surrounding area in the southwestern part of Oceanus Procellarum on February 22, 1967. The inner crater is 40 kilometers in diameter and the outer crater 56 kilometers. The crater resembles a geological phenomenon known on Earth as a caldera, a volcanic structure including an area of collapsed material. The contact between mare floor and upland areas is sharply defined here. Damoiseau was scheduled as Science site S-29 on the third Orbiter mission. The picture is from frame M-213.
[352] [PICTURE MISSING] Lunar Orbiter IV wide-angle frame 187, taken May 25, 1967, at 2,720 kilometer altitude, recorded an enormous, complex feature on the lunar surface, the Orientale Basin. Centered at 89° W longitude, 15° S latitude, the gigantic circular basin measures 965 kilometers in diameter at its outer scarp. At this perimeter the Cordillera Mountains, ringing the basin, rise 6,100 meters and are the most massive on the Moon. Within the outer ring the Rook Mountains form another circular scarp about 640 kilometers in diameter. Surrounding this complex basin, a coarsely graded blanket extends another 965 kilometers over the older cratered surface. The freshness of the surface texture and sharpness of the mountain areas suggest that Orientale is among the youngest large circular basins on the Moon. If it and the surrounding scarps and blanket were formed by a meteorite impact, as seems possible, then a high-velocity body of asteroidal proportions struck the Moon with monumental force.
[353] [PICTURE MISSING] Lunar Orbiter I recorded this view of the Moon's heavily cratered far side in frame 116 on August 24, 1966. The area shown here covers a rectangle 1,300 by 1,450 kilometers and is in the eastern portion of the far side just at the terminator as viewed from Earth.
[354] [PICTURE MISSING] On August 10, 1967, Lunar Orbiter V made this wide-angle westward-looking oblique photo of the elongated crater Messier and Messier A. These craters are at 47° E longitude, 2° S latitude on the floor of Mare Fecunditatis. A double ray from the pair of craters extends westward for about 160 kilometers. One interpretation for the peculiar shape of Messier and the rays is that they may have been produced by a low-angle impact of a meteorite on the Moon.
[355] [PICTURE MISSING] Lunar Orbiter V telephoto frame 41 shows details of craters Messier and Messier A. Taken at an altitude of 97 kilometers, the picture reveals features on the floor of Messier, which is about 13 kilometers long, 10 kilometers wide, and 1,220 meters deep. Material ejected from the craters can be seen on the mare floor. Downslope movement of material in Messier shows some accumulation on the crater floor. Messier A is 13 kilometers across.
[356] [PICTURE MISSING] The first Earth photograph by Lunar Orbiter I shows the cratered lunar horizon and the swirling cloud masses on Earth some 345,700 kilometers away. Taken August 23, 1966, as the spacecraft was about to pass behind the Moon on its 16th orbit, the picture proved valuable to program scientists for what it showed of the lunar surface at an oblique rather than a vertical angle. The illuminated crescent of the Earth shows the U. S. East Coast in the upper left, southern Europe toward the night side of Earth and Antarctica at the bottom of the crescent.
[357] [PICTURE MISSING] On August 8,1967, Lunar Orbiter V took this photo of the nearly full Earth with the 610 mm lens. The exposure time was 1/100 second, which was insufficient to compensate for the Earth's high albedo (about 0.36 of 1.0). However, ground processing successfully compensated for overexposure. The sub-solar point was just above and left of the Aral Sea, and the spacecraft's camera line of sight with Earth focused on a point slightly above and right of the Aral Sea. The angle between the subsolar point and the camera's line-of-sight axis intercept was 31.5°. The spacecraft was about 5,860 kilometers above the Moon in near polar orbit, so that the surface is not seen. The picture shows Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, most of the African continent, Madagascar, India, and Central Asia.
[358] [PICTURES MISSING] Dr. Floyd L. Thompson (above, left), Director of Langley Research Center at the time of the Lunar Orbiter Program, and Capt. Lee R. Scherer, Lunar Orbiter Program Manager at NASA Headquarters, discussed final mission results October 17,1967. Behind them is a partial mosaic of the Moon's surface made from Lunar Orbiter photos. Kneeling on the "Moon" (left) Langley Lunar Orbiter Project Manager Clifford H. Nelson examined a section of the 1-meter-square mosaic of 127 Lunar Orbiter IV photos. The U. S. Army Map Service assembled the mosaic for Langley Research Center.
[359] [PICTURES MISSING] Oran W. Nicks (above, left), NASA Director of Lunar and Planetary Programs, and Robert J. Helberg, Boeing's Orbiter Program Manager, watched thermal shroud fittings in 1965. Below, the mission monitoring group during Lunar Orbiter II's November 1966 mission included NASA Program Director Scherer (standing at left) and (left to right) Neil A. Holmberg, A. Thomas Young, Uriel M. Lovelace, Leon J. Kosofsky, Joseph Brenkle (standing), Dr. Thor Karlstcom, and Gerald W. Brewer,
[360] [PICTURE MISSING] Israel Taback (center), Lunar Orbiter Spacecraft Manager from Langley Research Center, examined a reconstructed photograph from Lunar Orbiter II with John B. Graham of Operations Integration (right). Picture data from the spacecraft were received at the Deep Space Network Tracking Station at Goldstone, California, and routed to photographic ground reconstruction equipment at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Space Flight Operations Center in Pasadena.