Planets and Moons
Hyperwall: Scouting the Apollo 11 Landing Site
Prior to the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing, the proposed landing site was surveyed by both robotic spacecraft and astronaut photographers. Images from Ranger, Lunar Orbiter, and Apollo 8 and 10 were all used to search for the best site for the first landing. The safest sites are those that are flat and smooth, with no large boulders and an unobstructed approach path.
The earliest close-ups were taken by Ranger 8 in 1965. The Ranger spacecraft were equipped with multiple video cameras that sent back still images every few seconds. The Rangers didn't orbit the Moon. They were instead designed to impact the surface. This allowed the cameras to take extreme close-ups in the final few seconds before impact.
The Lunar Orbiter program comprised five spacecraft, all of which took pictures from orbit. To achieve the highest possible resolution with the technology of the time, the cameras recorded images onto 70 mm film that was automatically developed onboard. The developed film was then scanned in strips by a video camera that transmitted the image, one strip at a time, back to Earth.
Lunar Orbiter used Kodak Bimat Transfer Film, similar to Polaroid instant film. The splotchy streaks visible in some Orbiter images are the result of the Bimat webbing sticking to the emulsion as it was peeled away, which tended to happen when the Bimat material was left in contact with the film for too long.
The images here can be found at the following locations.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio