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Surveyor 7
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Surveyor 07
Surveyor 7 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Lander
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Centaur (AC-15 / Atlas 3C no. 5903C / Centaur D-1A)
Launch Site: Eastern Test Range / launch complex 36A, Cape Canaveral, USA
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 1040 kg at launch, 306 kg on landing
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system; 2) alpha-scattering instrument; 3) surface sampler; and 4) footpad magnet
Spacecraft Dimensions: About 3 m high. Footpads extended 4.3 m from the center.
Spacecraft Power: Solar cells which charged silver-zinc batteries
Maximum Power: 85 watts
Total Cost: About $469 million for the entire series of seven Surveyor spacecraft.
References:
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi

National Space Science Data Center, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Solar System Log by Andrew Wilson, published 1987 by Jane's Publishing Co. Ltd.


Since Surveyors 1, 3, 5, and 6 successfully fulfilled requirements in support of Apollo, NASA opted to use the last remaining Surveyor for a purely scientific mission outside of exploring a potential landing site for the early Apollo flights.

After an uneventful coast to the Moon, Surveyor 7 successfully set down at 01:05:36 UT on 10 January 1968 on the ejecta blanket emanating from the bright Tycho crater in the south of the near side. Landing coordinates were 40.86° south latitude and 11.47° west longitude, about 29 kilometers north of Tycho's rim and 2.4 kilometers from the craft's target.

Initial photos from the surface showed surprisingly few craters, much like the mare sites, although the general area was rougher. About 21 hours after landing, ground controllers fired a pyrotechnic charge to drop the alpha-scattering instrument onto the lunar surface. When the instrument failed to move, controllers used the robot arm to force it down. The scoop on the arm was used numerous times for picking up soil, digging trenches, and conducting at least 16 surface-bearing tests. Apart from taking 21,274 photographs (many of them in stereo), Surveyor 7 also served as a target for Earth-based lasers (of 1-watt power) to accurately measure the distance between Earth and the Moon.

Although it was successfully reactivated after the lunar night, Surveyor 7 finally shut down on 21 February 1968. In total, the five successful Surveyors returned more than 87,000 photos of the lunar surface and demonstrated the feasibility of soft-landing a spacecraft on the lunar surface.


Key Dates
7 Jan 1968:  Launch (06:30 UT)
10 Jan 1968:  Lunar Landing
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Surveyor 07 Facts This was the first Surveyor to land in rugged lunar highlands near Tycho crater (right), significantly different - and more challenging - terrain than previous missions.

Surveyor 7 carried the most extensive science instrument payload of the series.

This mission brought the total number of Surveyor photos to more than 87,000.
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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...
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Last Updated: 1 Dec 2010