Ranger 7 was launched in 1964. Designed to send back images of the moon’s surface, it reached its destination on July 31, 1964. It sent back over 4,000 images of the moon during its last fifteen minutes of travel.
Luna 2, a Soviet spacecraft, was launched in 1959. On September 14, 1959, it became the first spacecraft to land on the moon. It discovered that the moon had no magnetic field.
Far side of the moon was first photographed in 1959. The Soviet Union’s Luna 3, launched October 3, 1959, took 29 pictures. Then, when the spacecraft came closer to earth, it transmitted seventeen of the pictures. The photographs were of lesser quality than later photographs, but they showed that the far side of the moon was very different from the side we can see. The far side is more mountainous.
Apollo 17 was launched into space in 1972. Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt landed on the moon December 11, 1972. They used the Lunar Roving Vehicle on their three moon walks. Other studies included photography, and one photo, The Blue Marble, is especially famous. The astronauts returned to earth December 19th. The mission was the last manned trip to the moon. Children can visit NASA’s site for junior scientists at: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/.
Apollo 13, the nearly fatal space mission to the moon, was launched in 1970. Astronauts John L. Swigert, Fred Haise, and James A. Lovell were on their way to the moon when an oxygen tank exploded. Their craft was severely damaged, and they had a great deal of difficulty returning home. The world held its breath until the craft fell safely into the Pacific Ocean on April 17, 1970.
Surveyor 3 was launched in 1967. It made a soft landing on the moon on April 20, 1967. Astronauts from the Apollo 12 mission to the moon brought back parts of the Surveyor. Children could analyze this photograph of the Surveyor. They could find out how it worked and how it was able to land without sinking into the moon’s dusty surface.
Apollo 10 was launched in 1969 and carried astronauts Thomas Stafford, John W. Young, and Eugene Cernan. The three traveled toward the moon and brought Snoopy, the lunar module, within nine miles of the moon. They circled the moon over thirty times and came back to earth on May 26.