As successful as its predecessor, Ranger 8 returned 7,137 high resolution photographs of the lunar surface prior to lunar impact at 09:57:37 UT Feb. 20, 1965. Unlike Ranger 7, however, Ranger 8 turned on its cameras about eight minutes earlier to return pictures with resolution comparable to Earth-based telescopes (for calibration and comparison purposes).

Controllers attempted to align the cameras along the main velocity vector (to reduce imagine smear), but abandoned this maneuver to allow greater area coverage. There had also been a spurious loss of telemetry during a midcourse correction on February 18 that gave rise for concern, although the mission was completed successfully.

Ranger 8 impacted at 2 degrees 43 minutes north latitude and 24 degrees 38 minutes east longitude, just 15 miles (24 kilometers) from its intended target point in the equatorial region of the Sea of Tranquility, an area that Apollo mission planners were particularly interested in studying as a possible landing site for future crewed missions.


Siddiqi, Asif A. Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958-2016. NASA History Program Office, 2018.

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