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Lunar Orbiter 2
Lunar Orbiter 2 Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: Following Lunar Orbiter 1's scouting of potential Apollo landing sites in the Moon's southern equatorial region, Lunar Orbiter 2 was to photograph 30 potential landing sites in the northern equatorial area, as well as take various measurements of the Moon and its environment.

Accomplishments: Lunar Orbiter 2 transmitted 211 pictures, covering nearly four million square kilometers of both the near and far sides of the Moon. They included a shot looking across Copernicus crater from an altitude of only 45 km that vividly conveyed the three-dimensional nature of the lunar surface, an image that newspapers hailed as "the picture of the century." Following the main imaging mission, the spacecraft changed its orbital plane to enable scientists to see how its orbit would respond to variations in the Moon's gravitational field over a wider swath.

Key Dates
6 Nov 1966:  Launch
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Lunar Orbiter 2 Facts Lunar Orbiter 2's image of Copernicus crater (right) was hailed as "the picture of the century."

The image was taken from an altitude of 45 km (28 miles) above the Moon.

The spacecraft was the first to make an orbital plane change.
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Last Updated: 24 Jan 2011