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Ranger 7 Information


Ranger Lunar Spacecraft

Ranger Lunar Spacecraft


Key Dates:

  • 07.28.64: Launch (16:50:07 UT)
  • 07.31.64: Lunar Impact (13:25:49 UT)
  • Status: Impacted Moon

Scientific Instruments:

  1. Six TV cameras

Ranger 7 Information:

As part of the pre-Apollo preparatins, NASA created the Ranger series of missions to take high-quality pictures of the Moon and transmit them back to Earth in real time. These images were not only to help select landing sites for future Apollo missions, they were also to be used for scientific study.

Each Ranger spacecraft was designed to make a "kazikaze" dive straight into the Moon and send close-range images back to Earth right up until they crashed into the surface. The cameras onboard each spacecraft were designed to provide different exposure times, fields of view, lenses, and scan rates, and they were arranged in two separate self-contained chains, each with its own power supply, timer, and transmitter.

Finally, a success. Ranger 7's six TV cameras started rolling just 15 minutes before it smashed into the lunar surface, transmitting 4,316 astounding images back to Earth before impact. The last image, taken only 2.3 seconds before the spacecraft was destroyed, had a resolution of 0.5 meters per pixel. The impact point was at 10°38' south latitude and 20°36' west longitude on the northern rim of the Sea of Clouds. Ranger 7 marked a turning point in America's exploration of space. After this mission, the ratio of successful deep space missions increased dramatically.

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