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Ranger, Surveyor, Luna, Luna Orbiter, 1960s Missions to Earth's Moon
Bob Shaw
post Apr 21 2005, 08:07 PM
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Have any of the serious experts on this board ever sorted out any 1960s images? I'm thinking of the Surveyor panoramas (in the 60s they did it with photos pasted onto the inside of half-spheres!) and the way that the exposure dropped off toward one corner, making a horrible patchwork effect. Or them lines and spots on the Lunar Orbiter images...

Most of the NASA mission data should be available as digital source material, and thus could be manipulated, though I suspect that getting anything 'real' from Soviet missions would be a bit of a chase!

Any thoughts?


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Phil Stooke
post Apr 21 2005, 08:43 PM
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What a coincidence that you should ask this question! As it happens, lots of things are happenning here. I assume people know about:

http://cps.earth.northwestern.edu/LO/index.html

and

http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/Projects/Luna...erDigitization/

and

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/mapcatalog/

and

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/resources/lunar_atlases/

(Lunar Orbiter images, plus some maps and Apollo stuff - browse and full res)

For Surveyor, the images were horrible, as you say. As far as I know nobody has ever been foolish enough to try to do anything with the full panoramas... until now. I scanned assembled pans at LPI in Houston, USGS in Flagstaff and LPL in Tucson. I am painstakingly fixing all the problems to create large (10000 to 15000 pixel wide) digital pans for each site. Surveyors 1, 3 and 7 are done, 5 is half done, six next year. This is a job that would drive you nuts if you were not already so challenged, so I only do one a year. This is being done for my International Atlas of Lunar Exploration, to be published in 2007. The atlas also covers all lunar missions including Soviet ones (e.g. maps of photo coverage from orbiters, day by day lunokhod route maps), and site selection for ranger, surveyor and apollo (the latter a fully illustrated account from the minutes of the meetings). So lots of things are being done.

Phil Stooke


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Bob Shaw
post Apr 21 2005, 08:53 PM
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Phil:

Terrific!

I don't suppose there are any sample images available? I'm thinking Surveyor VII in particular (as if you hadn't guessed!).


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dvandorn
post Apr 22 2005, 09:07 AM
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QUOTE (Bob Shaw @ Apr 21 2005, 03:53 PM)
Phil:

Terrific!

I don't suppose there are any sample images available?  I'm thinking Surveyor VII in particular (as if you hadn't guessed!).
*


You and me both! I'd dearly like to see the Tycho rim where the horrible joins between the frames don't dominate. I daresay it might be the most fascinating and beautiful lunar vista ever captured by cameras -- I can't wait to see Phil's work!

-the other Doug


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Phil Stooke
post Apr 22 2005, 03:50 PM
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I will post some Surveyor stuff when I have time. There are two low resolution pans of mine on LPOD - Lunar Picture of the Day (www.lpod.org):

Surveyor 1: http://www.lpod.org/LPOD-2004-07-09.htm

Surveyor 3: http://www.lpod.org/archive/2004/04/LPOD-2004-04-20.htm

and here I attach a greatly reduced version of the Surveyor 5 pan I'm working on now:

Attached Image


Surveyor 7 - I'll prepare something soon. It is a nice pan! But I wouldn't call it "the most fascinating and beautiful lunar vista ever captured by cameras" - not after Apollos 15 and 17.

Surveyor 3 looks very bland. The mission had serious camera problems caused by dust thrown up by the small 'vernier' landing thrusters. Individual frames were not just subject to shading variations but also to dust contamination on one side. The camera pointing mechanism was partly clogged with dust, so only 90 percent of a full pan was possible, and many frames were taken with high sun or looking down-sun so lighting was bad. It was a nightmare, taking three months of near full time work (good job I have tenure!), but it does show the trenches - this was the first robotic arm ever operated on another world - and at full res it does show a lot of detail of rocks on the horizon etc., lost in the reduced LPOD view.


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Bob Shaw
post Apr 22 2005, 07:28 PM
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Phil:

Very, very interesting - and the 'work in progress' element is of interest in it's own right. That looks like a *lot* of effort, and I can't wait to see the hi-res images when they come!

Are you going to attempt 3-D image creation using the Surveyor V pre and post 'hop' data?


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Phil Stooke
post Apr 22 2005, 08:27 PM
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No! I have to leave something for other folks to tackle... I don't have the expertise for that anyway.

Phil


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ilbasso
post Apr 22 2005, 09:45 PM
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Absolutely brilliant work, Phil! I'll be looking for a copy of your Atlas when it comes out!


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4th rock from th...
post Apr 22 2005, 11:35 PM
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Very good Phil!!!

Can you tell us the size of the panoramas in degrees?
Are they 360ºx90º ?
Surveyor 3 is smaller by what amount?


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Phil Stooke
post Apr 23 2005, 01:38 PM
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The Surveyor pans are 360 wide, though a hardware limit leaves a diagonal gap "behind" the camera where it would be looking through the central mast of the Surveyor frame. (you get glimpses of the ground through the frame). In the forward direction the pans extend from the horizon to the limit of visibility of the surface, about 70 degrees of image height. BUT the cylindrical pans which I am using are limited to more like 60 degrees height by the projection geometry.

Lots of variations on these pans were made, and much more could be done with them than I am going to be able to do. There is a book called Atlas of Surveyor 5 Images which shows multiple pans (in sections, not in the cylindrical geometry) with different lighting. Sadly, not published for the other missions.

Less known is that Surveyors 1 and 2 carried descent imaging systems... but they were never used. S1 did try to take a picture with it after landing to test the electronics, but it failed. It wasn't used during descent because it would cut too much into engineering data transmission, and frankly they didn't expect the first one to land successfully.

Phil


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Phil Stooke
post Apr 23 2005, 01:40 PM
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The Surveyor pans are 360 wide, though a hardware limit leaves a diagonal gap "behind" the camera where it would be looking through the central mast of the Surveyor frame. (you get glimpses of the ground through the frame). In the forward direction the pans extend from the horizon to the limit of visibility of the surface, about 70 degrees of image height. BUT the cylindrical pans which I am using are limited to more like 60 degrees height by the projection geometry.

Lots of variations on these pans were made, and much more could be done with them than I am going to be able to do. There is a book called Atlas of Surveyor 5 Images which shows multiple pans (in sections, not in the cylindrical geometry) with different lighting. Sadly, not published for the other missions.

Less known is that Surveyors 1 and 2 carried descent imaging systems... but they were never used. S1 did try to take a picture with it after landing to test the electronics, but it failed. It wasn't used during descent because it would cut too much into engineering data transmission, and frankly they didn't expect the first one to land successfully.

Phil


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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Apr 23 2005, 03:25 PM
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As I understand it, another factor behind not using the Surveyor descent camera was that it probably couldn't have provided any photos much better than the Lunar Orbiters' very sharp high-resolution lens photos -- and, of course, covering a much tinier area. (Especially since the plumes from the various landing rockets were though likely to fog up its lens.) They ended up, instead, removing the descent camera on the last five Surveyors and using its power and signal leads for other instruments: the surface sampler on #3 and 4, the alpha-scatter spectrometer on 5 and 6, and both of them on 7. A pity they didn't think of that earlier.

In that connection, by the way, I heard a remarkable story at a meeting of AIAA engineers in January. While they got a magnificent sequence of descent photos from NEAR during its final descent to the surface of Eros -- the camera stayed in clear focus at much closer range than anticipated -- they lost the photos from the last few hundred feet of descent, because the spacecraft's high-gain antenna moved out of line with Earth at that point. After landing, NEAR's engineers had the bright idea of using its thrusters to lift it off from the surface long enough for it to point its high-gain dish at Earth and return those last recorded photos. Unfortunately, while they were eagerly planning this, nobody thought to turn off the spacecraft's attitude-control system -- and so it quietly exhausted its hydrazine supply by trying to stabilize the entire asteroid. World War III will probably start in much the same way.
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Phil Stooke
post Apr 23 2005, 04:08 PM
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Bruce, the main purpose of the descent camera, of course, was to locate the landing point, so coverage or resolution compared with LO was not really important. On that subject, the only Surveyor not precisely located in high resolution images was Surveyor 5 (because there were no high resolution images of its site, including later Apollo images). I think a reasonable location can be proposed now based on crater rims on the horizon, and I will include it in my forthcoming book. I'm trying to do the same for Luna 17 as well, in support of new efforts to reacquire its laser retroreflector.

Phil


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ilbasso
post Apr 23 2005, 07:28 PM
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As for fascinating and beautiful vistas, I also have to add a vote for some of the wild pictures that NEAR sent back of Eros, like
http://cps.earth.northwestern.edu/NEAR/HANDM/168_bw_eros.png


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edstrick
post Apr 23 2005, 08:50 PM
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Surveyor 1 was not expected to land. The preflight estimate of success was 25%. After launch, it was found that one of the two omni-antenna arms had not deployed. This was no biggie, but it did shift the center of gravity of the spacecraft. Operation of the descent camera required that the flat-panel high-gain antenna be aimed at earth once the spacecraft was moved to descent orientation. Given the unknown effect of the changed CG, they decided to not do the antenna orientation and the descent imagery was abandoned.

One of my prize posessions is a complete audio tape recording I made of live coverage of the Surveyor 1 landing taped off NBC TV. This was before talking heads took over and there was an absolute prohibition of geek-talk and dead air time. I need to get it off reel-to-reel tape into digital form.

Surveyor 2 was lost due to fuel contamination problems. One of the 3 vernier engines failed to thrust during the midcourse maneuver subsequent attempts to fire the engines, and the vehicle was doing a 1 revolution/second spin when it hit the moon. <ouch>

On Surveyor 3, the descent camera was removed and the surface mechanical properties arm was installed in it's place, using the same electronics support equipment <I think> as the descent camera.

I have *** SOMEWHERE *** a pair of color images I made with photoshop from paper copy published images Surveyor 3 took of a solar eclipse by the earth <total lunar eclipse> NASA published a really lousy version of the worst of the two images during the mission. You can see a beaded lopsided ring of orange fire from sunlight refracting through clear sky between high cloud areas, and a fainter, more continuous blue ring of sky around almost the entire earth. Image resolution was crappy. Earth was visible only near the edge of the wide angle frames, and not in the narrow angle position of the zoom lens. (1 camera with a 2 position zoom lens) Earth was visible at all only because Surveyor landed in the crater at a considerable tilt. Surveyor 7 got a nice series of black and white earth views at 1 day intervals and a quasi-movie of about 10-12 frames of earth rotating over 1 day. (Surveyor 6 and 7 substituted polarizing filters for red/green/blue filters but the science value turned out to be minimal.)

Phil: It's wonderful beyond belief to see you working on the Surveyor panoramas. I'd lost all hope of seeing them done right.

Surveyor Stereo: Surveyor's 8 throuigh 14, the science missions, were <I think> intended to have dual cameras for stereo. They were never built and flown because of budget cuts and with program delays, Apollo was about to happen. Surveyor 6 got stereo images <with some sun movement between image sets> because the spacecraft was launched from the moon in a 6-foot high and sideways bunnyhop <not as tall as the top of the antenna/solar-panel mast!> Surveyor 7 had a mirror mounted on the mast that provided stereo coverage of part of the soil mechanics arm working area.
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