365 Days of the Moon -- August 01, 2014
Guerike, Bonpland, Parry, Fra Mauro, Mare Cognitum, and the Ranger 7
Fifty years ago yesterday, the NASA lunar probe Ranger 7 reached the Moon. Ranger 7 was the first successful American lunar probe, coming half
a decade after the Russian Luna 2 impacted the Moon and Luna 3 photographed the previously unseen far side of the Moon. At a time when Cold War
tensions were high, America was hungry for a lunar success in the space race with the Russians. Ranger 7's mission was to take closeup photos of the
lunar surface during a suicide plunge into the Moon's surface. Thus fifty years ago today, newspapers across America featured front page closeup photos
of the Moon, many of them showing a view like this one. Ranger 7 struck the Moon in the southern part of Oceanus Procellarum. That region of Procellarum
was subsequently renamed Mare Cognitum, or “the Known Sea” in honor or Ranger's success.
In this view, the crater Guerike with its broken walls is lower center. Above Guerike lie the side by side lava flooded craters Bonpland (left) and Parry
(right). Above the pair is the even more ruined large crater Fra Mauro. Look one crater width west of Bonpland and you see two lonely elongated mountain
peaks protruding from the smooth mare. Ranger 7 impacted just south of those two peaks. You had to be alive back then to understand the pride America took
in the success of Ranger 7. It was a turning point in our journey to the Moon. I remember it like it was yesterday!
Image taken through a Celestron 8 with a 2.5X Powermate and a DMK-41
Image copyright Robert Reeves 2014
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