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The Lunar Orbiter 2 robotic spacecraft, part of the Lunar Orbiter Program, was designed primarily to photograph smooth areas of the lunar surface for selection and verification of safe landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions. It was also equipped to collect selenodetic, radiation intensity, and micrometeoroid impact data.

Lunar Orbiter 2
Mission typeLunar orbiter
OperatorNASA
COSPAR ID1966-100A
SATCAT no.2534
Mission duration339 days
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerLangley Research Center
Launch mass385.6 kilograms (850 lb)
Start of mission
Launch dateNovember 6, 1966, 23:21:00 (1966-11-06UTC23:21Z) UTC
RocketAtlas SLV-3 Agena-D
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-13
End of mission
Decay dateOctober 11, 1967 (1967-10-12)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Semi-major axis2,694 kilometers (1,674 mi)
Eccentricity0.35
Periselene1,790 kilometers (1,110 mi)
Aposelene3,598 kilometers (2,236 mi)
Inclination11.9 degrees
Period208.07 minutes
Epoch9 November 1966, 19:00:00 UTC[1]
Lunar orbiter
Orbital insertionNovember 10, 1966
Impact site3°00′N 119°06′E / 3.0°N 119.1°E / 3.0; 119.1
Orbits2,346
 

The spacecraft was placed in a cislunar trajectory and injected into an elliptical near-equatorial lunar orbit for data acquisition after 92.5 hours' flight time. The initial orbit was 196 by 1,850 kilometres (122 mi × 1,150 mi) at an inclination of 11.8 degrees. The perilune was lowered to 49.7 kilometres (30.9 mi) five days later after 33 orbits. A failure of the amplifier on the final day of readout, December 7, resulted in the loss of six photographs. On December 8, 1966 the inclination was altered to 17.5 degrees to provide new data on lunar gravity.

The spacecraft acquired photographic data from November 18 to 25, 1966, and readout occurred through December 7, 1966. A total of 609 high-resolution and 208 medium-resolution frames were returned, most of excellent quality with resolutions down to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in). These included a spectacular oblique picture of Copernicus crater, which was dubbed by the news media as one of the great pictures of the century. Accurate data were acquired from all other experiments throughout the mission. Three micrometeorite impacts were recorded. The spacecraft was used for tracking purposes until it impacted upon the lunar surface on command at 3.0 degrees N latitude, 119.1 degrees E longitude (selenographic coordinates) on October 11, 1967.

In 2011, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) was able to locate and image the precise impact point of the spacecraft. The debris from an impact angle of 45 degrees or more spreads out like butterfly wings.[2]

Spacecraft orbit and photographic coverage on the near side (left) and far side (right)
Instruments
Lunar Photographic Studies Evaluation of Apollo and Surveyor landing sites
Meteoroid Detectors Detection of micrometeoroids in the lunar environment
Caesium Iodide Dosimeters Radiation environment en route to and near the Moon
Selenodesy Gravitational field and physical properties of the Moon

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "NASA - NSSDCA - Spacecraft - Trajectory Details". nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  2. ^ "Lunar Lost and Found - Rediscovering Old Wrecks on the Moon". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2011-11-04.

External linksEdit