This Day in Tech History

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ranger7July 31, 1964:  Ranger 7 Photographs Moon

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.

First Picture taken by Ranger 7

First Picture taken by Ranger 7

Last picture by Ranger VII, taken about 1600 feet above the moon, reveals features as small as 15 inches across. Receiver noise pattern at right results from spacecraft crash on the moon while transmitting.

Last picture by Ranger VII, taken about 1600 feet above the moon, reveals features as small as 15 inches across. Receiver noise pattern at right results from spacecraft crash on the moon while transmitting.

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.

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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.

89_a51807c9057231c5ddf2086cb24bfa1b 198Ranger 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.

"Dare Mighty Things"

“Dare Mighty Things”

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