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This day in tech: Ranger 8 probe launches for the Moon - February 17,1965


Project Ranger: The Ranger 8 probe launches on its mission to photograph the Mare Tranquillitatis region of the Moon in preparation for the manned Apollo missions. Mare Tranquillitatis or the "Sea of Tranquility" would become the site chosen for the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

Ranger 8 was designed to achieve a lunar impact trajectory and to transmit high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface during the final minutes of flight up to impact. The spacecraft carried six television vidicon cameras, 2 full-scan cameras (channel F, one wide-angle, one narrow-angle) and 4 partial scan cameras (channel P, two wide-angle, two narrow-angle) to accomplish these objectives. The cameras were arranged in two separate chains, or channels, each self-contained with separate power supplies, timers, and transmitters so as to afford the greatest reliability and probability of obtaining high-quality video pictures. No other experiments were carried on the spacecraft.

Image of the moon taken by the
Ranger 8 space probe, showing
the craters Ritter and Sabine.


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