By David M. Harland
In 'Paving the way in which for Apollo 11' David Harland explains the trap of the Moon to classical philosophers, astronomers, and geologists, and the way NASA got down to examine the Moon in practise for a manned lunar touchdown venture. It focuses really at the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions.
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Extra info for NASA's Moon Program: Paving the Way for Apollo 11
When The Moon ± A summary of existing knowledge of our satellite, with a complete photographic atlas was published in 1903 it was the first true atlas, because the pictures were reproduced at the same scale. Although Jamaica had particularly clear skies, Pickering's pictures of the Moon were still blurry and so there remained scope for visual studies, particularly in the limb regions ± but as professional astronomers turned their attention to the stars and even more distant objects, they left the Moon, which they regarded as a source of `light pollution', to their amateur brethren.
Shoemaker joined the US Geological Survey in 1948 he already had an interest in the Moon. In 1949 he made a review of the literature and turned up both Gilbert's paper and Baldwin's recently released book, both of which advocated the impact hypothesis. In 1955 he studied two craters about 100 metres in diameter created by underground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site to investigate how such explosions shocked and dispersed rock. He was impressed by their resemblance to lunar craters. In 1957, with Gilbert's analysis in mind, he began a study of Coon Butte.
The temperature at a depth of about one metre was estimated to be a constant ±408C. Candidates for the uppermost metre of material were a porous volcanic rock like pumice or a granular conglomerate. A colloquium held in Dallas, Texas, in 1959 concluded that the fine dust that formed the actual surface was probably of meteoritic origin. It was initially believed that the Moon is particularly bright at its `full' phase due to there being no shadows in view ± the objects at the centre of the disk cast no shadows, and objects away from the centre mask their shadows to terrestrial observers.
NASA's Moon Program: Paving the Way for Apollo 11 by David M. Harland