1000 Times Clearer
Ranger 7, an unmanned U.S. lunar probe, takes the first close-up images of the moon—4,308 in total—before it impacts with the lunar surface northwest of the Sea of the Clouds. The images were 1,000 times as clear as anything ever seen through earth-bound telescopes.
NASA had attempted a similar mission earlier in the year—Ranger 6—but the probe’s cameras had failed as it descended to the lunar surface.
Ranger 7, launched from Earth on July 28, successfully activated its cameras 17 minutes, or 1,300 miles, before impact and began beaming the images back to NASA’s receiving station in California. The pictures showed that the lunar surface was not excessively dusty or otherwise treacherous to a potential spacecraft landing, thus lending encouragement to the NASA plan to send astronauts to the moon in July of 1969.
Ranger 7 is credited for beginning the “peanut” tradition at NASA command stations. On the success of Ranger 7, someone in the control room was noticed eating peanuts – surely the reason the mission was successful. Since 1964 control rooms ceremonially open a container of peanuts for luck and tradition.