Guide to Lunar Orbiter Photographs

Thomas P. Hansen, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
NASA SP-242

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The Lunar Orbiter program initiated in early 1964 consisted of the investigation of the Moon by five identical unmanned spacecraft. Its primary objective was to obtain detailed photographs of the Moon. This document presents information on the location and coverage of all Lunar Orbiter photographs and is one in a series of four NASA Special Publications documenting Lunar Orbiter photography. The others are references 1 to 3. Reference 1 contains 675 photographic plates and provides coverage of the complete Moon with more detail than any other publication. Reference 2 is a collection of approximately 180 selected photographs and portions thereof at enlarged scale, and includes captions for each photograph. Reference 3 shows each named feature on the near side on annotated highresolution frames from mission IV. It also includes (1) an alphabetical index of features, (2) cross-indexes between listings in the catalog of the University of Arizona and the catalog of the International Astronomical Union which was published in 1935, and (3) listings of named lunar features on the near side covered during missions I, 11, 111, and V, and their photograph numbers.

The objectives of the Lunar Orbiter program were-

(1) Photography.-To obtain detailed lunar topographic and geologic information of various lunar-terrain types to assess their suitability for use as landing sites by Apollo and Surveyor spacecraft and to increase man's scientific understanding of the Moon. (2) Selenodesy.-To provide precision trajectory information

which would improve the definition of the lunar gravitational field.

(3) Moon environment.-To provide measurements of micrometeoroid and radiation flux in the lunar environment for spacecraft performance analysis.

These objectives were accomplished by the flights of five spacecraft during the 13-month period from August 1966 to September 1967. In addition to references 1 to 3 on Lunar Orbiter photography, the interested reader is directed to references 4 to 7 for results of the program.

The five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft returned over 1654 highquality photographs taken from lunar orbit. Each spacecraft was similarly equipped with two cameras which operated simultaneously and had the same line of sight but different fields of view and resolutions. The cameras utilized a common supply of 70-mm film and the dual images they recorded are referred to as medium-resolution frames and high-resolution frames.

Of the 1654 Lunar Orbiter photographs, 840 are of areas photographed on the basis of Apollo program requirements and were obtained primarily during missions I, 11, and 111. They were taken from low flight altitudes and provided detailed coverage of 22 areas located along the equatorial region of the near side of the Moon. The remaining 814 photographs were taken primarily during missions IV and V and include 703 of the near side of the Moon, 105 of the far side of the Moon, and 6 of the Earth. These photographs were taken from flight altitudes ranging from approximately 44 km over the liear side to approximately 6000 km over the far side, and provide broad coverage of essentially the entire Moon and detailed coverage at 88 areas on the near side.

This document contains tables and maps which catalog the various types of Lunar Orbiter photography conducted and aid the user in procuring photographs of selected areas. The maps were prepared by the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Chart and Information Center, in support of preliminary photo analyses performed immediately following each Lunar Orbiter mission.

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