The Face of the Moon

40. Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Ranger IX Photographs of the Moon : Cameras "A," "B" and "P." -- St. Louis: Published for United States Air Force, 1962. (Lunar Charts and Mosaics, LAC (series)-93)-- Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1966. (NASA SP (series)-112)

The Ranger missions, designed to photograph selected sites at a continually increasing scale before crashing onto the moon, got off to a shaky start; the first six missions, launched between 1961 and 1964, were all failures. Ranger VII, however, was successful, taking over 4000 pictures before plunging into the Ocean of Storms west of Fra Mauro. Ranger VIII had similar good fortune, photographing the Sabine/Ritter region of the Sea of Tranquility, the future landing site of Apollo 11. The site chosen for Ranger IX was the crater Alphonsus--at the time high on the list for an Apollo landing. The spacecraft was launched on March 21, 1965, and transmitted over 5800 pictures before impact. The last images, interrupted by the crash, show objects as small as a foot in diameter.

image - click to enlarge

Selected Ranger photographs from the three successful missions were subsequently published by NASA. Exhibited is one that shows most of the crater floor of Alphonsus. These photographs subsequently formed the basis for the most detailed maps of a region of the moon yet attempted, by both the U.S. Air Force (see item 41) and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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