The Soviet Luna 9 was the first space probe to soft land on the Moon in February 1966 and sent crude pictures from the surface.
A few months later on June 2, 1966, Surveyor I joined it and landed on a dark, relatively smooth, mare surface north of the Crater Flamsteed, in the Ocean of Storms. The geographic coordinates of the site, encircled by hills and low mountains, were 2.41° S, 43.34° W.
The robot spacecraft transmitted this high resolution photograph of the lunar surface, one of the first taken on its first day of operation, confirming that the lunar surface was strong enough to support an astronaut and revealing for the first time in beautiful detail the landscape of another world.
Surveyor I’s camera system had a variable iris, changeable filters, and a rotating mirror assembly, which allowed the camera to look in almost any direction and take pictures under various lightin conditions, in either B&W or in color. Video pictures with 200-line resolution and with 600-line resolution were possible; the first with a quick-look mode and the capability of transmission with a low gain antenna; the second for use with the directional antenna and the high data rate. Surveyor l’s camera had a lens of variable focal length and could be pointed by radio command from Earth. This allowed scientists to choose their subject and the most suitable light and lens setting for photographing it. Surveyor’s scanning of its horizon, afforded man his first look around the landscape of another world. (Cortright, ppg. 51-56)
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© All texts by Victor Martin-Malburet