Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon

By David E. Bowker and J. Kenrick Hughes, NASA SP-206, 1970

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During 1966 and 1967 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft to obtain photographs from orbit of the surface of the Moon. The reconstructed photographs and support data are now on file at the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The purpose of this Atlas is to present a selection of these photographs which provides essentially complete coverage of the near side and far side of the Moon in greater detail than any publication now in existence.

A summary of the five missions is given in table 1 (p. 19). The first three spacecraft essentially satisfied the primary objective to obtain high-resolution photographs of proposed Apollo landing sites. The fourth spacecraft systematically photographed the near side of the Moon and the fifth spacecraft completed the far-side coverage. The primary emphasis was not only to support the Apollo program but also to provide more detail in many areas that have been studied from Earth-based observations. At the average spacecraft altitude of about 3000 km for the photographs contained herein, the resolutions of the two cameras were approximately 500 meters and 65 meters; whereas under favorable conditions, Earth-based photography of the Moon can reveal details only as small as 500 to 1000 meters.

All the Lunar Orbiter photographs have been reprocessed from the original video data tapes. Special attention was given to the Atlas photographs to insure high quality and uniformity of appearance. They are presented here as 300-line-per-inch halftone reproductions (plates 1 to 675). The halftone negatives were prepared by the Army Topographic Command (TOPOCOM). The Lunar Orbiter photographs have been referenced to the lunar surface by a complete set of index maps which permit identification of those photographs showing a particular site or area. The Apollo zone photographs and the Atlas photographs have also been referenced separately by two additional sets of index maps. The index maps were prepared by the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC). An alphabetical listing of prominent lunar features is given which will aid in the location of these features within the Atlas. A bibliography has also been included to refer the interested reader to additional information on the results of the program.

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