The artifact in the collection is an engineering model, S-10, used for thermal control tests. It was reconfigured to represent a flight model of Surveyor 3 or later, since it was the first to have a scoop and claw surface sampler. After receipt in 1968 it was displayed in Smithsonian's Arts & Industries Building and then was moved to its present location in Gallery 112, Lunar Exploration Vehicles, in 1976.
The Surveyor series was designed to carry out soft landings on the Moon and provide data about its surface and possible atmosphere. These were the first U.S. probes to soft-land on the Moon. Once landed they provided detailed pictures of the surface by means of a TV camera carried on each of the spacecraft. Later Surveyors carried the instrumented soil mechanics surface scoop seen on the artifact. These were used to study the mechanical properties of lunar soil. Some of the spacecraft were also equipped to perform simple chemical analyses on lunar soil by means of alpha particle scattering. There were seven Surveyor launches starting in May, 1966, all launched by the Atlas-Centaur rocket. All but two successfully achieved program goals returning over 88,000 high resolution photographs and invaluable detailed data on the nature and strength of the lunar surface.
Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory