The Surveyor Program Results Summary

1966 – 1968.

by Hamish Lindsay.

Surveyor Program Results Summary.

Summarising the Surveyor achievements, four spacecraft examined widely separated mare sites on the Moon’s equatorial belt, while the fifth investigated a region within the southern highlands. Four of the spacecraft survived the tough conditions of a lunar night and operated for more than a lunar day/night cycle.

The combined effort lasted for 17 months, sending 87,000 pictures, and performed six separate chemical analyses of the lunar surface. They observed surface features such as boulders and craters under different lighting conditions over periods of weeks and months. They were able to compare different terrain types, from plains to different maria, including the flank of the crater Tycho.

As observed through the television pictures, old lurain had big soft craters and small fragments, while young lurain had many small sharp craters and many large sharp blocks. Older sites are smoother therefore more suitable for safe landings than block-littered young sites.

The Surveyor Program satisfied NASA that the lunar surface was safe enough to cope with the weight of an Apollo lunar module some eighteen months before the first planned attempt.

Benjamin Milwitzky, Assistant Director for Automated Systems of the Apollo Lunar Exploration Office, wrote on 8 May 1968, “It has been said that Surveyor 1 placed man’s eyes on the Moon and Surveyor 3 gave him a hand to work with.

The accomplishments of the total Surveyor Program, however, transcend the many historical ‘firsts’ now entered in the record. The full analysis of this new body of information may well have a profound effect on our understanding of the nature and processes of the Moon.”



See also:

The Missions: Surveyor 1, Surveyor 2, Surveyor 3, Surveyor 4, Surveyor 5, Surveyor 6, Surveyor 7.

Surveyor Program Results Summary, The Surveyor Spacecraft and Systems.