Representatives of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) asked SSERVI’s David Kring of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston TX, to write a lunar science and exploration article celebrating the anniversary of the Ranger 8 mission.

Following on the success of the Ranger 7 mission, which was the first United States spacecraft to photograph the moon up close, Ranger 8 took more than 7,000 high-resolution images of the moon before impacting the lunar surface on February 20, 1965. The lander was part of the series of nine Ranger spacecraft launched in the early 1960s to explore the moon.

Ranger 8 impacted the moon only 24 kilometers from its target in the Sea of Tranquility, an area that was of particular interest to Apollo mission planners. Images from the mission, which detailed the kind of terrain and obstacles that a human explorer might encounter, paved the way for future human exploration of the moon.

Dr. Kring illustrates the tremendous advantages of an integrated robotic and human exploration program, in two on-line articles posted on AGU’s Earth & Space Science News website.

The first is titled How Robotic Probes Helped Humans Explore the Moon—And May Again, and the companion article is titled Human and Robotic Missions: To the Moon Again and Beyond.

For more details on the history of human and robotic partnerships for lunar exploration, click on the above links for the full articles– they’re both excellent reads! LPI recently published supplemental information to accompany the articles; a complete list of lunar-related missions is available in LPI’s Lunar Exploration Timeline.

The work was supported, in part, by NASA through the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and the LPI-JSC Center for Lunar Science and Exploration.

Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff
Source: Kring/

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Five nations have placed scientific spacecraft in orbit around the Moon: U.S., U.S.S.R (now Russia), Japan, China, and India.

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