Surveyor 7: Setting the scene for Apollo

PRIOR TO THE SUCCESSFUL Apollo lunar landings, NASA sent a series of uncrewed probes to the Moon to learn more about the lunar surface. The last of these, Surveyor 7, was launched 45 years ago today.

A model of the Surveyor 7 spacecraft

A model of the Surveyor 7 spacecraft

Surveyor 7 was the last of the original series of Surveyor moon landers of the late 1960s and was dedicated primarily to scientific investigations. By 1968, the spacecraft’s predecessors had already performed much of the investigative work into the feasibility of a future human mission to the moon.

Surveyor 7’s mission was decidedly unique – it was the only spacecraft of the series to land in the lunar highland region. And it had the most extensive set of instruments, with which it conducted a number of scientific experiments on the lunar soil. Findings from Surveyor 7 were fairly consistent with earlier missions except that chemical analysis of the highland crust showed it to have less iron than samples from the lunar maria.

More information: Surveyor 7

Adapted from information issued by NASA.

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