1964: First Image of the Moon, Taken by a U.S. Spacecraft
Ranger 7 took this image on July 31, 1964 at 9:09 a.m. EDT, about 17 minutes before impacting the lunar surface. Ranger 7 was the first U.S. spacecraft to successfully transmit images of the lunar surface back to Earth.
Forty-eight years ago today, Ranger 7 sent back the first close-up images of the moon. They were 1,000 times clearer than any photos earth-bound telescopes had captured in the past. Simply put, the world had never seen anything like it.
The United States hasn’t sent a man to the moon since 1972. In fact, we haven’t even made a “soft landing” on the lunar surface since 1976.
But that doesn’t mean our photo library is dwindling. It’s just the opposite. Lunar orbital satellites continue to snap photos of the moon — and those images get more detailed with each new mission.
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