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Ready, Set, SCIENCE!, by the National Research Council, focuses on K-8 science classsrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store, as well as classroom materials.
Image of Lunar Orbiter spacecraft
NASA/National Space Science Data Center

Lunar Orbiter

During 1966 through 1967, five identical Lunar Orbiter spacecrafts were launched, with the purpose of mapping the Moon's surface and finding smooth, level terrain, in preparation for the Apollo and Surveyor landings.

All five missions were successful. The first three Lunar Orbiters were mostly dedicated to obtaining detailed, high-resolution photographs of 20 areas on the Moon's nearside, preselected as possible future landing sites. Lunar Orbiters 4 and 5 concentrated on more general mapping, covering 99% of the lunar surface including most of the farside. Also, much was learned about the Moon's gravitational field.

After orbiting the Moon and returning hundreds of photographs, each Lunar Orbiter spacecraft was commanded to crash into the surface, destroying itself.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF