Lunar Day Twenty-Two
Tonight let us begin Moon walking by returning to a previous study on Lunar Day Nine - the Riphaeus Mountains (Figs. 23.1 and 23.2). Just southwest of landmark crater Copernicus. Northeast of the range is another smooth floored area on the border of Oceanus Procellarum. It is here that Surveyor 3 landed on April 19, 1967.
After bouncing three times, the probe came to rest on a smooth slope in a subtelescopic crater (Fig. 23.3). As its on-board television monitors watched, Surveyor 3 extended its mechanical arm with a “first of its kind” miniature shovel and dug to a depth of 18 inches. The view of subsoil material and its clean-cut lines allowed scientists to conclude that the loose lunar soil could compact. Watching Surveyor 3 pound its shovel against the surface, the resulting tiny “dents” answered the crucial question. The surface of a mare would support the landing of a spacecraft and exploration by astronauts.