Friday, March 19, 2010

Surveyor 5?

Updated Saturday, March 20, 2010 0245 UT
Is this Surveyor 5? We won't stake any reputations on it, but it fits the profile as recorded in post-mission reports. The high-sun image of the official location, barely more than 20,000 meters north-northwest of Apollo 11, makes a dicey identification. At 1.4 degrees north of the equator, little if any shadow is cast and the resolution of this commission-phase LROC image is around 1.2 meters per pixel, leaving little detail. Later images, with twice the resolution, all fell just beyond this official location. This Surveyor might be an interesting future landmark for missions to study the landing site Apollo 11 without disturbing that area, though even a landing here would have some impact on the "pristine" conditions at Tranquility Base [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Editor's note. Knowing full well the full cycle of the Surveyor saga, we earlier erroneously labeled this posting as a speculation concerning a possible sighting of Surveyor 7, and the last in the series, which of course landed north of the rim of Tycho. It was Surveyor 5 that landed 23.9 kilometers northwest of what would eventually become the landing sight of Apollo 11, 22 months and 9 days later (September 11, 1967). We're just glad no one had to point out the error to us.

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