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Lunar Photographic Studies

NSSDCA ID: 1967-008A-01

Mission Name: Lunar Orbiter 3
Principal Investigator:Mr. Leon J. Kosofsky


This experiment consisted of a dual-lens camera system designed to satisfy the primary mission objective of providing photographic information for the evaluation of Apollo and Surveyor landing sites. As 80-mm lens system was used to obtain medium-resolution (MR) photos, and a 610-mm lens system was used for high-resolution (HR) photos. The two separate lens, shutter, and platen systems utilized the same film supply and recorded imagery simultaneously in adjacent areas on the spacecraft's 70-mm film. Automatic sequences of 1, 4, 8, or 16 photos could be obtained. At an altitude of 55 km, which was approximately the perilune height, the HR system photographed a 4.15- by 16.6-km area of the lunar surface which was centered on the 31.6- by 37.4-km area photographed by the MR system. Resolutions were 1 and 8-m, respectively. At apolune, on the moon's farside at about 1850-km altitude, the areas photographed were correspondingly larger. The film was bimat processed on board, optically scanned, and the resulting video signal telemetered to ground stations. Film density readout was accomplished by a high-intensity light beam focused to a 6.5-micron-diameter spot on the spacecraft film. The flying spot scanner swept 2.67 mm in the long dimension of the spacecraft film. This process was repeated 286 times for each millimeter of film scanned. The raster signal received at the ground station was recorded on magnetic tape and also fed to ground reconstruction equipment (GRE), which reproduced the portion of the image contained in one raster on a 35-mm film positive framelet. Over 26 framelets are required for a complete MR photograph and 86 for a complete HR image. Of the 211 simultaneous exposures, the performance was nominal until the final readout on March 2, 1967. A detailed description of the experiment, a bibliography, and indexes of all the available Lunar Orbiter 1 through 5 photos are contained in the report 'Lunar Orbiter photographic data,' NSSDC 69-05, June 1969.

Alternate Names

  • LunarOrbiter3/LunarPhotographicStudies


  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Isidore G. RecantOther InvestigatorNASA Langley Research Center
Mr. Leon J. KosofskyPrincipal InvestigatorNASA Headquarters

Selected References

  • Lunar Orbiter photographic data (data users' note), NASA-GSFC, NSSDC 69-05, Greenbelt, MD, June 1969.

Related Information at NSSDCA

Image of EASEP

Lunar Orbiter Camera Diagram

Detailed Information on Lunar Orbiters and Images
Lunar Orbiter overview

Lunar Science
Moon Page

Other Related Data/Information

USGS Digitized Lunar Orbiter Images
Digital Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon (Lunar and Planetary Institute)

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