Model of Surveyor 3 on a beach in California
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NASA/JPL

Surveyor

The Surveyor missions of 1966 through 1968 were the next step in space travel to the Moon, following the Ranger missions. Their goal was to perform "soft" landings on the lunar surface, meaning that the spacecrafts would not crash and be destroyed.

Five of seven Surveyor missions were successful, landing safely on the moon, conducting soil analysis, and returning over 87,000 close-up photographs of lunar terrain. Parts of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft which landed in 1967 were even brought back to Earth by astronauts visiting the Moon 3 years later to study the effects of exposure to space environment.

From the Surveyor program we learned that the lunar surface is firm and can be walked on by astronauts, a feat accomplished by the Apollo missions.


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