RANGER, SURVEYOR, AND LUNAR ORBITER
To prepare for Apollo, robotic spacecraft equipped with scientific instrumentation studied the Moon from 1962 to 1968. The Ranger and Lunar Orbiter programs provided photographic coverage of the lunar surface, and Surveyor landed to sample the lunar surface. This information was of great value to scientists studying the history of the Moon and to engineers planning the Apollo program of manned lunar landings. This detailed, systematic program of research with robotic spacecraft, both in orbit and on the surface, served as a model for later exploration of the planets. Photographic coverage assisted in selection of Apollo mission landing sites while knowledge of the physical characteristics of the lunar soil assured appropriate design of the Apollo lunar module.
These were the American robotic spacecraft designed to explore the Moon:
Lunar Orbiter, 1966-1967
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