National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Surveyor 5
 By Target   By Name   By Decade 
Surveyor 05
Surveyor 5 Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: Surveyor 5 was to support the upcoming Apollo missions by performing a soft landing in Mare Tranquillitatis and then taking pictures of the lunar surface, by firing a rocket engine after landing to see how much the lunar soil is disturbed, and by analyzing the soil.

Accomplishments: When a leak in the thruster system threatened the mission, engineers saved the day by devising and executing an alternate braking sequence. The spacecraft returned over 20,000 pictures taken during 3 lunar days. Soil analysis (the first ever on another world) revealed a basalt-like composition: more than half oxygen, followed by silicon and aluminum. The amount of material sticking to the footpad magnets suggested a mix of pulverized basalt and 10 percent to 12 percent magnetite with no more than 1 percent metallic iron. Firing the main engine for 0.55 second produced no crater or significant dust cloud.

Key Dates
8 Sep 1967:  Launch
11 Sep 1967:  Lunar Landing (00:46:42 UT)
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Surveyor 05 Facts Surveyor 5 performed the first on-site soil analysis of a celestial body beyond Earth (right).

It was the first spacecraft in the Surveyor series to carry a scientific instrument.

Engineers used pencils instead of computers to make hasty calculations to save the troubled spacecraft before landing.
Science & Technology Features
People Spotlight
Al Hibbs Al Hibbs
Al Hibbs decided as a five-year-old that he wanted to go to the Moon. He did qualify as an astronaut, but his legacy is in robotic exploration. Read More...
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 1 Dec 2010