Wednesday, March 25, 2015

50 Years Ago: Ranger IX Crashes into the Moon

Last of the Ranger probes, Ranger IX.

Quickly following the successful flight of Gemini 3 the day before, NASA scientists were busy crashing a probe into the lunar surface - on purpose. Ranger IX was the last in the Ranger series of Lunar Exploration probes designed to give scientists close up video and pictures of potential landing sites. On March 24, a final use of thrusters precisely tilted the spacecraft for maximum camera use and the craft plunged to its impact site in the crater Alphonsus. The speed of the crash was at about 8,800 feet per second.

Ranger image of the floor of the crater Alphonsus before impact.

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