Sunday, March 21, 2010

Surveyor 7 Speculation

From among the commissioning and first of the nominal LRO mission LROC NAC imagery including published landing sites of five of the seven successful U.S. Surveyor robotic landers perhaps the most uncluttered include coordinates for Surveyor 7 (41°01′S, 348°35′E). Though the sun was late-morning high, the high-latitude southern highlands north of Tycho therefore presents distinct shadows for objects of sufficient profile. Though strewn with boulders of a similar-size only one object cast a diffuse shadow detached from it's source. For this and other reasons we speculate the object above is likely to be Surveyor 7, or more accurately the square solar panels seen as the elongated bright area set apart to the north of the larger and brighter object that is probably the main cluster of experiments. As astonishingly clear as the image is gray hues are balanced out and so the vehicle's three legs and other framework blend in with the surrounding lunar surface. These are also just below the 52 cm per pixel resolution. The view was from almost directly overhead though slewed two degrees) from 49.4 km altitude. Surveyor 7, last of the 1966-1968 series, managed by JPL, was soft-landed in January 1968 (M111668133LE from orbit 1590, October 31, 2009) [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

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