Surveyor 3 and Apollo 12

Surveyor3_Apollo12On 17 April, 1967, NASA launched the Surveyor 3 spacecraft on a mission to the lunar surface. 2-1/2 years later, it was visited by Apollo 12 Commander Charles Conrad Jr. and astronaut Alan L. Bean, who took this picture. The Apollo 12 Lunar Module is visible in the background at right. It landed about 600 feet from Surveyor 3 in the Ocean of Storms. Using a surface sampler to study the lunar soil, Surveyor 3 conducted experiments to see how the lunar surface would support the weight of an Apollo lunar module. This moon lander, which was the second of the Surveyor series to make a soft landing on the moon, also gathered information on the lunar soil’s radar reflectivity and thermal properties. It transmitted more than 6,000 photographs of its surroundings back to Earth. The camera and several other pieces of equipment were removed from Surveyor 3 and brought back to Earth for examination.

Image Credit: NASA

2 thoughts on “Surveyor 3 and Apollo 12


  1. Imagine the sheer gall of the flight planners. They go from a successful but hairy landing with Apollo 11, essentially “just get it down safely”, to a targeted landing (and the target is tiny) in the very next mission.

    It would take 10 more flights nowadays just to get permission to try that.

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