|Exploring The Planets
Tools Of Exploration
Although much can be learned about the surface of a planet from orbiting spacecraft, detailed observations must be made on the surface.
Surveyor 3 on display in Lunar Exploration Vehicles (gallery 112) in the National Air and Space Museum.
© Smithsonian Institution photo #77-1759
|Five Surveyor spacecraft landed on the Moon between July 2, 1966, and January 10, 1968. Each transmitted data to Earth for at least two weeks. The Surveyors photographed the lunar surface and measured its mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. The last three missions also analyzed the chemical composition of the surface materials.|
| Surveyor 3 television camera
The Surveyor 3 television camera landed on the Moon as part of Surveyor 3 on April 20, 1967. On November 24, 1969, the crew of Apollo 12 carried the camera back to Earth. This camera is on display in the Exploring The Planets exhibit in the National Air and Space Museum.
| Alan Bean retrieves Surveyor 3 camera
153k GIF - 61k JPEG
NASA photo #AS12-48-7134
This photo shows Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean grasping the Surveyor 3 camera with his right hand. The Apollo 12 Lunar Module is on the horizon, about 100 meters (330 feet) away.
© Smithsonian Institution Photo #80-3070
Viking Lander in the Milestones of Flight gallery in the National Air and Space Museum.
|Two Viking spacecraft landed on the surface of Mars in 1976. The Vikings included instruments for detection of life, chemical analysis, meteorological measurements, and a seismograph. To read about the mission and some of the lander experiment results go to The Viking Mission in the Mars section of the gallery.|
|Between 1967 and 1983, the (then) USSR sent 12 spacecraft called Venera
(4-16) to the planet Venus. Each spacecraft included a lander designed
to withstand the intense heat and acidic atmosphere of Venus long enough
to make it to the surface and return data. Venera 8, 9, 10, 13, and
14 were among the landers that successfully reached the surface and
returned data. All but Venera 8 returned images of the surface. Venera
9 and 10 landed in October of 1975 and returned the first images from
the surface of another planet. The above image is from the Venera 14
More Information about the Venera missions can be found at: NASA - Planetary Missions.
The stationary component of the Mars Pathfinder mission, the Mars Pathfinder Lander set down on the red planet on July 4, 1997. Armed with a Stereoscopic Imager and an Atmospheric Structure Instrument/Meteorology package, the lander spent 3 months investigating the martian surface, atmosphere, and weather. The Lander also provided support to the mission's rover as a communications relay station and by sending images of the rover's activities back to Earth. By the end of the mission, the lander had sent back 550 images. These images revealed details of Pathfinder's landing site in Ares Vallis, one of the largest outflow channels on Mars.
Tools of Exploration
Earth-based Observations || Airborne and Orbital Telescopes || Probes and Fly-by Spacecraft
Orbiters || Landers || Rovers || Sample Return
© 1997-2001 National Air and Space Museum