You are on page 1of 12

Page 1

An Educational Services Publication of the
A
Vol. I!, No. 6 National Aersnautics and Space Administralion
Rev 3-65
I
i I Source of Acquisition

Ranger plummets towards the moon. Broken arrow indicates flight path (artist's sketch).

Before man can journey safely to the moon, earth's atmosphere, which veils or distorts lunar
he must acquire information that has defied images. The resolution, or ability to distinguish
centuries of observation. An important step objects, of earth's most powerful telescopes per-
toward meeting this requirement i s NASA's mits man to detect lunar obiects no smaller than
Project Ranger which has given man a closer look a half mile in size. Ranger VII, telecast pictures
ever before at the moon. t o earth that revealed lunar features as small as
Knowledge of the moon has been based 15 inches across on July 31, 1964, before i t
largely on observations through telescopes on crashed into the northwest corner of Mare
earth. This knowledge is seriously limited by Nubium-the Sea of Clouds. The International
the moon's great distance from earth and b y Astronomical Union subsequently designated this
Page 2 NASA FACTS Vol. II, No. 6
area "Mare Cognitum." Ranger Vlll sent close-
up photographs of additicnal areas before it

1 shed into the western part of Mare Tranquilli-
u tis-the Sea of Tranquility-on February 20,
1965. Ranger IX transmitted close-range photo-
graphs of the crater Alphonsus on March 24,
1965 before it crashed into the crater.

OPENS NEW ERA IN LUNAR ASTRONOMY
Although relatively near earth as compared to
other celestial bodies, the moon is fundamentally
still a scientific mystery. Astronomers have
mapped the moon's visible face and have named
its perceptible craters, mountains, valleys, and
plains. But, unable to discern the fine details
of the lunar surface, they debate its structure and
strength.
As a result, engineers designing the landing
gear for the Surveyor soft-landing spacecraft
and the Apollo section that American explorers
will land on the moon's surface (the section i s
rglled the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM) are
Incerned whether a landing site that appears
from earth to be smooth and firm i s actually so.
They ask whether it could be a vast dust bowl
capable of engulfing a spacecraft. They wonder
whether it i s strewn with boulders or pitted with
craters too small to be seen from earth.
Ranger opened a new era in lunar astronomy Photograph of moon (above) outlines aiming point area in Sea
of Clouds where Ranger VII landed at 6:25:49 a.m. EDT, July 31.
by sending pictures of the moon showing features Map (below photograph) shows targeted and actual impact
2 0 0 0 times smaller than previously detectable points, which ore about 8 miles apart.

through earth based telescopes. Dr. Gerard P.
Kuiper, who heads a team o f scientific investi-
gators studying the Ranger photographs, pre- Also notable was the absence of fissures in the
sented an interim report on Ranger VII on lunar surface.
August 28, 1964. Highlights of the report: ... Based on a study of pictures taken about
. . . The seemingly smooth Sea of Clouds is 1 6 0 0 feet above the moon, 90 percent of the
dotted by thousands o f small craters that do not slopes of the lunar surface are calculated to be
show up on photographs taken through tele- between one and fifteen degrees. This appears
scopes on earth. t o be more level than previously anticipated.
... An outlying ray of the Crater Tycho is ... While some areas are clearly unsafe for
peppered with craters. Lunar rays appear landing, others are believed t o be sufficiently
ugh earth telescopes as light streaks radiating level and smooth for touchdown by the Apollo
some craters. Lunar Excursion Module as presently designed;
.. With the exception of several chunks of however, no knowledge of the surface strength
matter in one crater, n o boulders were visible. could be obtained from the Ranger photographs.
NASA FACTS Voi. II, No. 6 Page 3
. . . Primary craters may be identified by
their sharply defined edges as contrasted with
RANGERS VII, Vlll and I X provided man-
the relatively rounded shoulders of the second-
kind with close-up photographs of the
ary craters. The rounded instead of sharp
moon. Ranger I X is the last of the
edges are believed to be partly due to the
Ranger series of spacecraft. Of earlier
lower impact velocities of the debris thrown
from the larger primary craters.
spacecraft in this series, Rangers I and I1
were test vehicles not intended for lunar ... What appear to be lava flow lines are
picture taking; Rangers 111 and V imissed visible. One lunar theory holds that some
the moon and soared into orbit around the craters are the remains of extinct volcanoes.
sun; and Rangers I V and VI struck the For a long time, scientists believed that the moon
moon but failed to send data. had no further volcanic activity., In recent years,
however, astronomers on earth have observed
through their telescopes what appear to be gas-
eous emissions from the moon's interior.
... Erosion seems to be a significant force
on the moon despite the absence of wind and
water. It i s theorized that incessant bombard-
ment by meteoroids and by protons (particles of
atoms) emanating from the sun may have pul-
verized the boulders, filled the fissures, and
smoothed the edges of the less sharp secondary
craters.
Experimenters cautioned that the Ranger
photographs which cover a relatively small area
of the moon are not necessarily typical of the
moon as a whole and they strongly emphasized
that their findings are preliminary. They stressed
that the Ranger pictures are designed to ad-
vance knowledge about the moon's topography
Photo taken by Ranger Vil at 3000-foot altitude shows area only and that the Surveyor program i s intended
100 feet in each side. Note rounded shoulders of secondary to provide information about the strength, or
craters (see text).
hardness, of the moon's surface.

Rangers VII, VIII, and IX sent back to earth
about 17,000 close-up photographs of the moon
... Most of the craters revealed for the
as they plummeted to the lunar surface. It is
first time b y Ranger photographs are believed
anticipated that these photographs will receive
caused b y debris that was thrown up b y colli-
close attention and study by lunar scientists
sions of meteoroids (random chunks of matter
throughout the world for many years to come.
speeding through space) with the moon. The
main crater created by the meteoroid impact has The only other spacecraft to provide man with
been termed a primary crater. The debris from photographs of the moon i s the Soviet Lunik 3.
these primary craters may fly many miles before In 1959, Lunik 3 took about 3 0 pictures of the
lling back to the lunar surface. The craters moon's hidden side (see "The Moon," below)
sulting from matter thrown up b y the impact from distances of 4 3 0 0 t o 43,000 miles. The
this debris are called secondary craters. pictures gave no fine detail, but did indicate that
There may also be craters created by matter possibly the moon's hidden portion may not be
thrown up from the secondary craters. as rugged as the area visible from earth.
Page 4 NASA FACTS Vol. 11, No. 6
result from slight changes in velocity and the
gravitational pulls of the sun and planets as the 1
moon circles earth.
The moon i s believed to have no appreciable
atmosphere to diffuse light and heat nor to shield
i t from bombardment b y meteoroids and radia-
tion. Day and night, the stars, sun, and earth
(and other planets shine steadily in the moon's
jet black sky. During the day (which is about
1 3 % earth days and nights), the moon's surface
may be as hot as 2 6 0 degrees Fahrenheit while
during the equally long night the temperature
falls as l o w as 2 4 3 degrees below zero
Fahrenheit.
Some scientists believe that the primeval moon
was captured by earth's gravity as it flew near-
b y during an early stage in the solar system's
formation. Others theorize that the moon was
torn from the primordial earth.
Eroded b y neither wind nor rain, the moon's
matter immediately below the level affected by
meteorites and radiation may have changed
little during the satellite's lifetime. As a result,
the moon may offer an opportunity to study the
matter of the solar system as i t was billions of
* '
At picture by Ranger VII, taken about 1600 feet above the
years ago. Just as the Rosetta Stone gave the
moon, reveals features as small as IS inches across. Receiver
noise pattern a t right results from spacecraft crash on the first clue toward deciphering Egyptian hiero-
moon while transmitting. glyphics, study of lunar material may help answer
key questions regarding the origin and evolution
of the solar system and perhaps how life may
THE MOON have begun.

Although many lunar features are beyond the
reach of his ground-based instruments, man does
have significant facts: The moon's diameter i s
2163 miles, about one-fourth that of earth. Its
gravity is one-sixth that of earth, meaning that a Some telecasts by Ranger VII as
it plunged toward moon's sur-
156-pound man on earth would weigh only 26
face. In each picture, the area
pounds on the moon. The moon's mean alti- covered by the next photograph
tude in its elliptical orbit around earth is 238,857 is outlined in white. Black
miles. lines, drawn on camera lens,
The moon takes about 2 7 % days to revolve are used for scale references
and as an indication of whether
around earth and the same time for one com-
picture i s distorted. North i s
plete rotation on its axis. For this reason, the
at top.
moon always presents the same face to earth.
However, about 59 percent rather than the
cted 5 0 percent of the lunar surface is visible
earth. This is due to the moon's librations,
which are to and fro, or nodding, motions that
NASA FACTS Vol. I!, No. 6 Page 5

1

Picture taken at an
altitude of 480 miles,
has about the same
resolution as photo-
graphs by eaflh-based
telescopes. A number
of physical features
visible from earth
are identified.

Altitude: 235 miles.
Area: 1 13 miles on a side.
Smallest Visible Crater:
About 10OO feet in
diameter.
Fwture: Note increase in
detail of Bonpland W
and its twin crater (to
left of Bonpland W).
Page 6 NASA FACTS Vol. II, No. 6

Altitude: 85 miles.
Area: 41 miles on a side.
Smallest Visible Crater:
About 500 feet in
diameter. '
Features: Cluster of sec-
ondary craters in part
of a ray of the Crater
Tycho becomes distinct
(center of picture.
Lunar rays appear from
earth to be tight lines
radiating from some
craters). Detail of
Bonpland H and twin
crater i s increased.

Altitude: 34 miles.
Area: 16 miles on a side.
Smallest Visible Crater:
About 150 feet in
diameter.
Features: Greater resolu-
tion of craters in out-
lying ray of Tycho.

Picture series continued
on page 7.
NASA FACTS Vol. II, No. 6 Page 7

Altitude: 1 1 miles.
Area: 5.5 miles on a side.
Smallest Visible Crater:
About 45 feet in
diameter.
Features: Crater near
upper left of area out-
lined in white.

Altitude: 3.6 miles.
Area: 1.8 miles on a side.
Smallest Visible Crater: 30
feet in diameter; 10
feet deep.
Features: Angular rock
mass in crater (noted
in picture above) at
upper left. Preliminary
study indicates the mass
to be several separate
chunks.
Page 8 NASA FACTS Vol. II, No. 6
THE R A N G E R TELEVISION SVSTf M
The remarkably clear pictures of the moon
F a s t by Ranger were accomplished b y a
r6mplex high quality system of television cameras
and transmitters on Ranger and a ground receiv-
ing network at the Goldstone, Calif., station of
NASA's global Deep Space Network. This
network tracks, controls, and gathers informa-
tion from NASA spacecraft sent to the moon and
beyond.

Ranger i s equipped with six television cameras
and associated transmitters and power supplies.
The system is mounted on the spacecraft's hex-
agonal base within a compartment shaped like
a truncated cone.

The system includes two full-scan (F) and four
partial-scan (P) cameras. Their difference i s that
the F cameras shoot a larger area than that of
the P cameras but the P cameras can pick up
more detail.

The television system i s designed to telecast
about 300 pictures a minute during the 15 to 20
"nutes before Ranger crashes on the moon.
b
I' e first pictures show about as many details as

the best telescopes on earth. The last few tele-
casts reveal lunar features smaller in size than a
Head-on view of Ranger's six television cameras. The pictures
bushel basket. received from Ranger are more than twice as good as those
received on ordinary home television sets.
Behind the shutter of each camera i s a vidicon
tube about the size of a water glass. The tube's
faceplate i s coated with a photo-conductive ma-
terial on which light and dark areas seen through
the camera shutter form an image. This image
i s rapidly scanned by a beam of electrons. The
beam can differentiate light and dark areas by
stone station, amplified, and f e d t o two kine-
their comparative resistance (light areas have
scopes which are similar to small television sets.
high resistance; dark areas, low). As the
Before these sets are 35-mm. cameras. The
electron beam sweeps across the image, i t is
signals are also recorded on magnetic tape
converted into an electrical signal that i s ampli-
similar to that used by television studios to record
fied and radioed t o earth. The vidicon face-
live shows for later telecasts.
plate image i s erased so that i t can take new
The radio signals appear on the television sets
pictures by saturation with high intensity special
as a dot of light moving across the screen. The
lights and high frequency electron beams. The
camera lenses are set to stay open long enough
whole process takes a fraction of a second.
to photograph the light through a complete
The radio signals from Ranger are picked up sweep over the screen. By this means, the
by the 85-foot diameter antennas at the Gold- cameras make meaningful still photographs.
NASA FACTS Vol. II, No. 6 Page 9

Principal equipment of
Ranger. ,(On-board
rocket i s not v i s i b l e i n
t h i s view.)

THE RANGER "BUS" cations link when the high-gain antenna i s not
pointed to earth (as during launch and mid-
The Ranger "bus" is the basic vehicle to which
course correction. See "From the Earth to the
the experiments (in this case, the television
Moon," below.) The omni-directional antenna
system) are attached. It contains Ranger's prin-
also functions at all times to receive commands
cipal power supply; telemetry instruments to re-
from earth to the spacecraft.
port on the spacecraft's condition and operation;
During Ranger's flight, two solar panels ex-
a command system to enable personnel on earth
tend from i t like butterfly wings. The panels
to control the craft; timing, orientation, and tem-
hold a total of 9792 solar cells. These photo-
perature control devices; and a small rocket
electric devices convert sunlight into 200 watts of
system for in-flight correction, i f required, of
electricity for powering spacecraft equipment.
Ranger's course.
Auxiliary power is furnished b y two silver zinc
Ranger sends information to earth principally storage batteries which are used when the solar
through a dish-shaped, high-gain antenna. This panels are not functioning, particularly during
kind of antenna focusses radio signals in a nar- launch when they are still folded and during mid-
row beam, thus sending a signal with maximum course correction.
strength in a given direction. During its flight, Ranger must be positioned so
Ranger is also equipped with an omni-direc- that its solar panels face the sun for power and
tional antenna which disseminates radio signals its high-gain antenna points to earth. A com-
i n all directions. Although the signals from the plex system of sun and earth sensors, gyro-
omni-directional are far weaker than those from scopes, and nitrogen gas jets keeps the craft
he high-gain antenna, they serve as a communi- oriented.
Page 10 NASA FACTS Vol. II, No. 6
Ranger's rocket engine can operate in bursts LAUNCH CONSIDERATIONS
as short as 5 0 milliseconds (50/1000ths of a
Among major considerations governing Ranger
. It can generate as much as 5 0 pounds
-rand)
thrust for 98Y2 seconds.
launches are the requirements that i t must obtain
useful photographs of the moon and that t
orienation system must be able to do its wor
The launch must be timed so that Ranger
reaches the moon's sunlit portion when long
Telephone statement by PRESIDENT LYNDON 0. JOHNSON
t o Dr. Homer E. Newell, NASA Associate Administrator for shadows will be cast by any but smooth physical
Space Science and Applications, and Dr. William H. Pick- features. Caught b y the cameras, the shadows
ering, Director, Jet Propulsion Laborotory, Pasadena, Colif.
July 3 1 , 1964 . . . indicate how rugged or flat the land is. Such
information i s important to science and vital for
manned landings.
behalf of the whole country, I want to
congratulate you and those associated with you in
Moreover, attitude control requirements make
NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and in unacceptable the periods of the new and full
the industrial laboratories. All of you have con-
tributed the skills to make this Ranger VII flight moon. The spacecraft must lock upon the earth
the great success that it is. We ore proud of the
tremendous technical achievement which this suc- and sun for orientation, and in these periods, the
cessful flight represents.
SUP and earth sensors cannot adequately orient
Ranger. Technical limitations on target areas
L'Thisis a basic step forward in our orderly pro-
gram to assemble the scientific knowledge neces- and on satisfactory lighting angles preclude
sary for man's trip to the moon.
launchings during the moon's first quarter.
"The pictures obtained of the lunar surface
These two factors limit Ranger's launch to a
should prove extremely useful. They will be a period during the moon's third quarter (see
guide in constructing the lunar excursion module
and in planning the trip. We shall now be able sketch).
t o better map out our descent route. We'll be
able to build our lunar landing equipment with Other constraints are the location of the Cape
)
*
greater certainty and knowledge of the conditions
which our astronauts will encounter on the moon.
Kennedy, Fla., launch site and the two thousand
mile per hour speed at which the moon circles
" ')
"Irecognize that this great success has come earth. As a result of these and other considera-
only after a number of failures and partial failures
i n our efforts to send probes to the moon. This tions, the launch window (time interval) for
success should spur us on to added effort i n the Ranger's flight to the moon i s restricted to periods
of from 90 to 150 minutes daily during a 6-day
&'Thefact that our Soviet competitors have had period that occurs about every 28 days.
many unpublicized failures to the moon and the
planets also confirms the complexity of today's When rocketed to the moon at about 24,500
success. miles per hour, Ranger must be centered within
a ten-mile-wide imaginary corridor leading to
"On behalf'of a grateful nation let me again
congratulate you on this magnificent achieve- where the moon will be when Ranger reaches the
ment. All of you today have helped further the
peaceful exploration of space."
altitude of the moon's orbit. In aiming their
craft along its narrow curving flight path, launch
personnel must consider not only the effects of
the gravitational pulls exerted by the earth and
moon but also b y the sun, Jupiter, Mars, and
SPACECRAFT DIMENSIONS Venus. All influence the motion of a spacecraft
At launch, Ranger i s 5 feet in diameter at its coasting between the earth and moon.
hexagon-shaped base and 8l/4 feet long. When
FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
cruising in space with solar panels and high-
antenna extended, Ranger spans 15 feet In brief, Ranger's flight plan i s as follows:
oss the panels and i s 10% feet long. Ranger A two-stage Atlas-Agena launch vehicle
ighs 806'/2 pounds, of which 381 l/2 pounds is rockets Ranger from Cape Kennedy. The Atlas
the TV system. exhausts its fuel and falls away. The Agena ')
1
NASA FACTS Vol. II, No. 6 Page I 1

iagram illustrates why moon's
third quarter i s only acceptabk
time for launching Ranger.

MOON A N 0 SUN SENSORS CANNOT

ONLY REGION WHERE
RANGER IMPACTS
NEAR-VERTICALLY ON
SUNLIT SIDE OF
MOON A N 0 WHERE
SPACECRAFT ORIENTA-
TION IS ADEQUATE

TRAJECTORY

FULL
MOON

Typical Ranger Launch to Moon. h. MOON

NORTH POLE -91-
MIDCOURSE MANEUVER
CORRECTS INITIAL GUIDANCE
ERRORS OF POSITION
AND VELOCITY
Atlas-Agena rocket vehicle launches Ranger
VII to Moon.

OTHER UNMANNED LUNAR PRO-
GRAMS: Ranger is one of three NASA
projects designed to provide informa-
tion about the moon with unmanned
spacecroft. Another, Surveyor, will
be equipped with braking rackets to
IN CIRCULAR enable i t to make a gentle landing
PARKING ORBIT on the moon. Surveyor will telecast
AT 17.500 MPH. the moonscape, analyze lunar surface
ALTITUDE 115 MI. and subsurface material, measure
moonquakes and meteorite impacts,
IN SPACE FOR ANY and check the moon's surface for
AGENA FIRING
ONE LAUNCH DAY strength and stability. A third proi-
IF RANGER ENTERS 10-M1LE.OIAMETER ect, called Lunar Orbiter, i s aimed at
CIRCLE WITHIN 16 MPH OF DESIRED developing an unmanned spacecrsft
INJECTION VELOCITY. THEN MIDCOURSE to be guided into a low-altitude lunar
MOTOR CAN ADJUST TRAJECTORY FOR orbit, photograph the moon's surface,
LUNAR IMPACT DESIRED INJECTION and provide more information on the
VELOCITY VARIES FROM 24.463 TO 24.487 moon's size, shape, and gravity.
MPH DEPENDING ON DATE OF LAUNCH
Page 12 NASA FACTS Vol. 11, No. 6

Mid-course Maneuver.

ignites, propels itself and the attached Ranger termine when, how long, and in what direction
into an orbit a hundred miles above earth, and Ranger's on-board rocket must fire to put the
a
I n turns off its motor. spacecraft on target.
After coasting to a predetermined location, The mid-course maneuver consists of five prin-
the Agena engine is restarted to accelerate from cipal operations (see illustration), all directed from * )
17,500 miles per hour to 24,500 miles per hour. earth. When performed at the right time, it can
The latter i s the initial velocity needed to send a shift the location at which Ranger reaches the
craft to the moon. moon's altitude as much as 7500 miles in any
Agena's main engine stops. Agena sepa- direction.
rates from Ranger and fires auxiliary rockets and After the mid-course maneuver, Ranger re-
jets to maneuver out of the Ranger's vicinity. sumes coasting flight. A final or terminal ad-
Ranger's attitude control system of sun and earth justment o f orientation may be made to refine
sensors and gas jets properly orients the craft. the aim of its cameras.
The solar panels unfold and face the sun. The About 15 minutes before impacting on the
high-gain antenna extends and locks on earth. moon, it begins telecasting pictures of the lunar
Ground controllers compare Ranger's pro- surface to earth. Ranger crashes on the moon
grammed trajectory with its actual flight path. at about 6000 mph some 66 hours after launch
If the spacecraft is off course, the controllers de- from earth.

NASA FACTS format i s designed for bulletin-board display NASA FACTS i s an educational publication of NASA's Edu-
uncut, or for 8 x 10% looseleaf notebook insertion when cational Programs and Services Office. I t will be mailed
cut along dotted lines and folded along solid lines. For to addressees who request it from: NASA, Educational Publi-
notebook ring insertion, punch at solid dots in the margins. cations Distribution, AFEE-1, Washington, D.C., 20546.

*U 5 GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 1965 OF-767-787