Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Happy 45th, Lunar Orbiter 5!

The above image shows an example of the NASA series of Lunar Orbiter spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA

Wednesday, August 2nd, marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of the Lunar Orbiter 5 spacecraft aboard an Atlas-Agena D rocket (August 2, 1967). Lunar Orbiter 5 was the last of the Lunar Orbiter series, designed to take additional Apollo and Surveyor landing site photography and to take broad survey images of parts of the Moon's far side which had yet to be photographed.

Lunar Orbiter 5 was also equipped to collect selenodetic (the study of the gravitational field and physical properties of the Moon), radiation intensity, and micrometeoroid impact data and was used to evaluate the Manned Space Flight Network tracking stations and Apollo Orbit Determination Program.

The spacecraft acquired lunar photographic data from August 6 to 18, 1967, and data readout occurred until August 27, 1967. A total of 633 high resolution and 211 medium resolution frames at resolution down to 2 meters (6 ft 7 inches) were acquired, bringing the cumulative photographic coverage by the five Lunar Orbiter craft to 99 percent of the Moon's surface. Lunar Orbiter 5 was tracked until it struck the lunar surface on command at 2.79 degrees S latitude, 83 degrees W longitude (selenographic coordinates) on January 31, 1968.

To learn more about the Lunar Orbiter Program, visit the pages maintained by the Lunar and Planetary Institute (www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/missions/orbiter) and the material hosted by NASA's National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), Goddard Space Flight Center (nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/lunarorb.html).

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