lunar image of the month

december: surveyor 6 panorama

In November 1967 the US lander Surveyor 6 soft-landed in the Mare Medii which lies at the centre of the Moon's disc as seen from the Earth. Its mission, like all of the Surveyors, was to carry out reconnaissance for the Apollo missions which were to follow.

One of its last acts was to test the principle of lift off from the lunar surface: NASA controllers sent it an instruction to fire its rocket engine making it rise some 4 metres above the ground and touch down again 2.5 metres from its initial landing point. It was the first vehicle to ever launch from the Moon.

The image is a composite of photographs, and reveals a highly cratered surface considering the area is in one of the apparently smooth maria.

Image: NASA.