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Surveyor 3

Surveyor 3 was the third lunar lander of the Surveyor program.

A total of 6,315 images were transmitted to Earth.

As it was landing, highly reflective rocks confused Surveyor 3's descent radar. The engines failed to cut off at 14 foot as per the planned flight profile. This spacecraft bounced twice. The first bounce reached an altitude of 35 feet. The second bounce reached 11 feet. On the third impact -- from an initial altitude of 11 feet and velocity of zero which was under the original design target of 14 feet slowly descending -- the spacecraft settled in a soft landing as per the design intentions.

This mission was the first carrying a surface soil sampling scoop. This was mounted on a motor driven arm and used to dig four trenches. The trenches were up to 7 inches deep. Samples from the trenches were placed in front of the spacecraft's telivision cameras for image transmission back to Earth. When Lunar nightfall came on May 3, 1967; the spacecraft was shut down to preserve battery power, upon the next lunar dawn (14 terrestrial days, or approximately 14 times 24 = 336 hours) the spacecraft could not be reactivated.

This site was subsequently selected for the Apollo 12 manned lunar mission. Several components of the Surveyor were collected and returned to Earth for study of the long term exposure effects of the harsh lunar environment on human artifacts.


Pete Conrad visits the landing site of Surveyor 3. The Apollo 12 lunar lander that carried him is visible in the background.



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