A model of the Surveyor spacecraft series. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Surveyor 1, the first of a series of seven robotic spacecraft sent to the moon to gather data in preparation for NASA's Apollo missions, was the first spacecraft to make a true soft landing on the moon. As such, it was one of the great successes of NASA's early lunar and interplanetary program.
The soft landing was achieved using a retrorocket and a bank of three thrusters to slow the lander's speed from almost 6,000 miles per hour to just 3 miles per hour and safely touch down on the lunar surface. Over a period of about 30 days, Surveyor 1 transmitted more than 11,000 photographs as well as data on the moon's surface and temperature.
- Imaging system