Engineer Particular Research of the Floor of the Moon (1960-1961)

Engineer Particular Research Sheet 1: Generalized Photogeologic Map of the Moon. Please click on to enlarge. Picture credit score: USGS.

The race to the Moon started on 17 August 1958 and the Soviet Union gained. This is not the opening line of an alternate historical past story; moderately, it’s an acknowledgment that a couple of Moon race befell. The primary, with the purpose of launching a small automated spacecraft to the Moon, started with the liftoff of the In a position 1 lunar orbiter, a 38-kilogram U.S. Air Drive (USAF) probe. (It was later re-designated Pioneer 0.) In a position 1’s first stage, a Thor missile, exploded simply 77 seconds after launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, ending the world’s first tried lunar mission.

A month later, on 23 September 1958, the Soviet Union joined the race. A spherical Luna probe supposed to influence the Moon fell sufferer to the failure of its upgraded R-7 booster rocket simply 93 seconds after liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome in central Asia.

On 11 October 1958, the USAF launched In a position 2, a near-copy of In a position 1. It was the primary lunar launch performed underneath NASA auspices. The civilian house company had opened its doorways on 1 October 1958. NASA absorbed most Division of Protection house tasks, although in observe the USAF and U.S. Military continued to hold out missions whereas interagency relations and contours of command grew to become outlined.

In a position 2, later re-designated Pioneer 1, burned up in Earth’s environment on 13 October after its In a position rocket second stage shut down early, putting it on an elliptical path that took it a few third of the way in which to the Moon. The Soviets launched their second Luna Moon impactor simply 16 hours after the U.S. launched In a position 2. The unnumbered Luna’s upgraded R-7 launch car exploded 104 seconds after liftoff.

And so it went, with launches from Florida and Kazakhstan alternating and failing. The Pioneer 2 lunar orbiter (8 November 1958) and one other Luna impactor (4 December 1958) fell sufferer to untimely launch car shutdowns. Pioneer 3 (6-7 December 1958), the primary NASA/Military Moon probe, was launched on a U.S. Military Juno II, not a USAF Thor-In a position, however carried out a lot as had Pioneer 1.

First try: Thor-In a position 1 launches Pioneer 0 (17 August 1958). Picture credit score: Air Drive Air & House Museum. 

On 3 January 1959, the Soviet Union snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Their Luna 1 impactor missed the Moon by 6400 kilometers, and so failed to perform its mission. It sailed on, nevertheless, turning into the primary human-made object to orbit the Solar. The Soviets nicknamed it Mechta (“dream”). The U.S. Military launched the Pioneer 4 lunar flyby spacecraft two months later (3 March 1959). It did not return photographs of the Moon, however repeated Mechta‘s feat.

One other unnumbered Luna impactor fell sufferer to an R-7 failure on 18 June 18 1959. Then, on 14 September 1959, on their sixth try, Soviet rocketeers succeeded in hanging the Moon with the Luna 2 impactor. The probe struck close to the middle of the Moon’s Nearside, the hemisphere that faces the Earth. Three weeks later (6 October 1959), Luna 3 flew 7900 kilometers over the Moon’s south pole and imaged the hidden Farside hemisphere.

In a last-ditch effort to steal the Soviet Union’s thunder, the USAF and NASA determined to present a deliberate Pioneer Venus orbiter a brand new mission: orbit and {photograph} the Moon at shut vary. Its mission ended 104 seconds after liftoff on 26 November 1959, when its Atlas-In a position launcher misplaced its streamlined launch shroud and tumbled uncontrolled.

As the primary Moon race led to Soviet victory, strain constructed within the U.S. for a rematch. Although President Dwight Eisenhower had made it clear that the Division of Protection department companies ought to think about house and rocket tasks with speedy navy functions, the Moon nonetheless beckoned to U.S. Military and USAF rocketeers.

The U.S. Military and the USAF studied lunar floor bases even after the creation of NASA. The Military Ballistic Missile Company emphasised Undertaking Horizon, a lunar fort, whereas the USAF labored with contractors on the SR-183 Lunar Observatory mission. LUNEX was a USAF research of an early manned lunar expedition. The USAF additionally started lunar mapping utilizing Earth-based telescopes.

Moon fort: Undertaking Horizon lunar base. On this portray from 1959, a U.S. Military crew lander arrives on the touchdown subject within the background, past which lies a jagged line of mountains. Within the foreground, habitat modules are buried in an excavated ditch for micrometeoroid safety. Picture credit score: Nationwide Air & House Museum.

The primary try to map lunar options for scientific and engineering functions didn’t, nevertheless, originate throughout the Protection Division. It was begun as an alternative by Arnold Mason of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Army Geology Department in Washington, DC. In line with Don Wilhelms, writing in his 1993 memoir To a Rocky Moon, the peripatetic Mason grew to become eager about lunar geology after the 4 October 1957 launch of Sputnik 1. Mason’s boss, Frank Whitmore, quickly bought caught up in his enthusiasm. Whitmore, by the way, served as Secretary of the Geological Society of Washington.

Early in 1959 — quickly after Luna 1 — Mason proposed to hold out an evaluation of the Moon’s alien terrains to find out their suitability for spacecraft landings, journey on foot and by rover, and base development. With Whitmore’s blessing, he enlisted Robert Hackman and Annabel Brown Olson of the USGS Photogeology Department in his mission. Mason grew to become mission chief, Hackman grew to become Mason’s co-author, and Olson (who, in keeping with Wilhelms, acquired inadequate credit score for her labors) assisted Hackman. At first, that they had obtainable solely meager USGS funds. Quickly after Luna 2 and Luna 3, nevertheless, the Military Corps of Engineers funded their research.

Mason and Hackman’s evaluation took in solely the Nearside. They primarily based their evaluation on photographic plates from giant telescopes on Earth, which underneath the most effective viewing situations might (they estimated) reveal options on the moon no smaller than a few mile throughout. In actual fact, options 10 miles extensive had been barely discernible in many of the photographic photographs they used.

Their work quickly drew in as consultants lunar specialists Gerard Kuiper (McDonald Observatory), Eugene Shoemaker (USGS Menlo Park), and Robert Dietz (Naval Electronics Laboratory). All three supported the influence speculation, which acknowledged that many of the Moon’s craters are asteroid influence scars; not, as some believed, volcanic calderas. On the time, planetary astronomer Kuiper was exhausting at work on a USAF-funded lunar photographic atlas; Mason and Hackman would use it close to the top of their research. Shoemaker, in the meantime, was busy refining a prototype lunar geologic map of the area containing the big, comparatively younger crater Copernicus; Hackman would later help him with identification of lineaments within the Copernicus area.

The Military Corps of Engineers printed the primary version of Mason and Hackman’s four-sheet “Engineer Particular Research of the Floor of the Moon” map set in July 1960. USGS printed a second version with “minor revisions” the next yr.

The “Engineer Particular Research” was vital partly as a result of its Sheet 1 (high of publish), titled “Generalized Photogeologic Map,” was the primary main lunar map to point out stratigraphic relationships: that’s, it tried to show the chronological order of the formation of the Moon’s floor options. Mason and Hackman’s stratigraphic system centered on the formation of the maria (Latin for “seas”), the comparatively easy, dark-hued plains that mottle the Nearside. They make up about 20% of the Moon’s floor.

Mason and Hackman coloured orange the closely cratered, light-colored “pre-maria” terrain; that’s, landforms that they believed had been already in place when the maria fashioned. They coloured maria yellow, whereas inexperienced indicated “post-maria” options; primarily younger asteroid influence craters, but in addition options that they interpreted as being of latest volcanic origin. They used black dots to mark what they recognized as volcanic cones and domes and skinny black strains to mark what they thought had been tectonic faults.

Their stratigraphic map, although pioneering, was too simplistic to precisely painting the Moon’s historical past. Many of the maria basins fashioned at totally different occasions throughout the first billion or so years of lunar historical past, so options related to them typically overlap. An influence crater blasted into an older mare (Latin for “sea”) would, for instance, turn into a pre-maria landform by Mason and Hackman’s reckoning if it grew to become engulfed in ejecta and lava from a later basin-forming large influence. As well as, some distinguished lunar options recognized as pre-maria (the Apennine Mountains, for instance) ought to have been represented by a fourth colour to indicate that they’re non-maria options created by the identical large asteroid impacts that excavated the maria basins.

Against this, Shoemaker’s practically contemporaneous prototype Copernicus geology map, printed in small amount by the USAF Aeronautical Chart and Info Heart in April 1961 however by no means formally printed, recognized 5 stratigraphic “methods.” From oldest to youngest, these had been the Pre-Imbrian, Imbrian, Procellarian, Erastothenian, and Copernican methods. Even this may turn into simplistic, nevertheless, as soon as robotic and human explorers started to supply lunar geologists with close-up photographs and samples of the Moon’s complicated terrain.

Engineer Particular Research Sheet 2: Lunar Rays. Please click on to enlarge. Picture credit score: USGS.

Engineer Particular Research Sheet 3: Physiographic Divisions of the Moon. Please click on to enlarge. Picture credit score: USGS.

In sheet 2 of the “Engineer Particular Research,” titled “Lunar Rays,” Mason and Hackman plotted the supply craters and extent of the Moon’s most distinguished ray methods. They appropriately recognized the light-hued rays as ejecta blasted out from younger asteroid influence craters.

Mason and Hackman’s Sheet 3, titled “Physiographic Divisions of the Moon,” was their most formidable. In it, they utilized photogeologic rules pioneered on Earth to establish greater than 70 totally different lunar terrain items.

Sheets 1 via 3 laid the groundwork (actually) for Sheet 4, on which Mason assessed in writing the touchdown, journey, and development situations in every of the physiographic areas on Sheet 3. What follows are summaries of his assessments for a number of areas which have been visited by spacecraft.

Luna 2 struck the southern flank of Autolycus crater within the northern a part of Mason and Hackman’s Apennines Area. In line with Mason and Hackman’s evaluation, Autolycus is a post-maria influence crater, solely flippantly rayed, on the western fringe of Mare Imbrium, within the intensive Mid Lunar Lowlands. Mason wrote that the floor within the Apennines Area is tough and blocky, so landings there can be very troublesome. Motion within the area would, he judged, be the “most troublesome on the [M]oon’s floor, and potential solely by fastidiously chosen routes.” Development can be “very troublesome due to blocky materials and steep slopes.”

James Irwin salutes Outdated Glory at Hadley-Apennine in {a photograph} captured by Apollo 15 Commander David Scott. The Lunar Module Falcon and the Lunar Roving Car Scott and Irwin used to discover the Hadley-Apennine website glitter within the harsh morning daylight. The floor materials round Falcon is rolling and unfastened with few giant rocks. Mount Hadley Delta, about 4000 meters tall and rounded by billions of years of small meteoroid impacts, stands behind Irwin and Falcon. Picture credit score: NASA.

Luna 2 was not designed to return photographs because it plunged towards the Moon; nevertheless, the Apollo 15 Lunar Module Falcon landed west of the Luna 2 influence website on July 30, 1971. Astronauts David Scott and James Irwin discovered the world to be cratered and rolling, however troublesome neither to land on nor to navigate on foot or by rover. The floor materials was unfastened to a depth of many meters. The close by Apennine Mountains, which Mason and Hackman had envisioned as steep and jagged, turned out to have been rounded and partly leveled by micrometeoroid impacts over the practically 4 billion years since their formation.

NASA’s Ranger 7 probe was designed to return photographs of the lunar floor because it fell towards damaging influence. On 31 July 1964, Ranger 7 returned greater than 4300 photographs of the world between Oceanus Procellarum and Mare Nubium. 

Mason and Hackman had known as the world containing Ranger 7’s influence website the Riphaeus Part. It was a lowland maria divided by the highland Riphaeus Mountains. Mason judged that touchdown and motion can be “typically simple” if blocky remoted pre-maria highland areas and post-maria craters could possibly be prevented.

Thoughts the crease: the Riphaeus Part from Sheet 3. Ranger 7 impacted the Moon southwest of the closely degraded Fra Mauro crater, which is marked by a dashed define at middle proper. Please click on to enlarge. Picture credit score: USGS.

Development, alternatively, can be a problem within the Riphaeus Part. Mason anticipated that, underneath a skinny layer of unfastened particles, lunar base builders would discover basaltic rock exhausting sufficient to forestall boring and excavation. Whereas within the Apennines Area he suggested lunar base builders to keep away from craters and their blocky environment, within the Riphaeus Part such asteroid-shattered areas would most likely be the one locations the place digging might happen. This utilized to different maria lowlands as properly. 

Scientists inspecting Ranger 7 photographs discovered that its influence space was cratered all the way down to the size of inches; nevertheless, the craters had been virtually all eroded, with easy flooring and rims and few giant rocks. Micrometeoroids had been whittling away on the terrain within the Riphaeus Part for a really very long time. In tribute to Ranger 7, lunar mappers named the world the place it impacted Mare Cognitum, which suggests “Recognized Sea.”

Surveyor 7, the final of its collection of sentimental landers, alighted gently on the northern flank of Tycho crater on 10 January 1968. Mason and Hackman recognized the world containing post-maria Tycho because the pre-maria Macrocrater Province. Tycho, they wrote, spanned 54 miles from rim to rim. The crater’s ground was 12,000 toes beneath its rim, which stood 7900 toes above the encircling terrain. They famous that Tycho was the Moon’s most distinguished ray crater, with vibrant streaks extending as much as 500 miles plainly seen to the unaided eye at full moon.

Closeup of Sheet 2: Tycho and the adjoining Macrocrater Province. Please click on to enlarge. Picture credit score: USGS.

Mason judged that touchdown and motion can be troublesome close to Tycho. The latter can be potential, nevertheless, if a secure journey route could possibly be chosen upfront. Development can be troublesome due to the various giant blocks embedded all through the world.

Surveyor 7 landed blind on Tycho’s flank; that’s, it included no hazard-avoidance system. By its scanning digital camera scientists noticed that the world was certainly rougher than people who earlier Surveyors had explored. They noticed unfastened rocks, boulders, comparatively steep slopes, obvious bedrock outcrops, and odd “lakes” of darkish grey materials, presumably cinders laid down by latest volcanism or rock melted by the colossal energies of the Tycho influence. A few of these options might have destroyed Surveyor 7 had it landed on them.

Basically, nevertheless, Tycho, just like the Riphaeus Part and the Apennines Area, was not as rugged as Mason had predicted. In actual fact, after Surveyor 7, some felt that Tycho’s flank was easy and stage sufficient for Apollo astronauts to go to. A 1969 research primarily based on Surveyor 7 photographs decided that it was too tough for rover operations, nevertheless.

Tycho’s rocky flank: the view from Surveyor 7. Picture credit score: NASA.

In early December 1960, Mason and Hackman attended the Worldwide Astronomical Union’s First Lunar Symposium at Pulkovo Observatory in Leningrad. The assembly was held within the Soviet Union in deference to that nation’s demonstrated lead in lunar exploration. They displayed the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers version of the “Engineer Particular Research.”

Upon his return from the historic symposium, Mason offered a casual report on the journey to the January 1961 assembly of the Geological Society of Washington. Mason’s boss Whitmore briefly summarized his report within the assembly minutes.

Hackman appeared as co-author on Shoemaker’s April 1961 prototype Copernicus geologic map. Copernicus mapping then stalled for a number of years as a result of Shoemaker had new obligations. He had succeeded in launching the NASA-supported Astrogeology Research Undertaking at USGS Menlo Park, close to San Francisco, in August 1960; this grew to become the NASA-supported USGS Department of Astrogeology in September 1961. As well as, he was busy publishing ground-breaking papers on lunar cratering dynamics and lunar and terrestrial geologic timescales. The Copernicus map was finally printed in 1967 with soon-to-be-astronaut Harrison Schmitt and Newell Trask as Shoemaker’s co-authors.

In July 1961, Hackman submitted for evaluate what grew to become after the “Engineer Particular Research” the second printed USGS lunar map: a geologic research of the Kepler area primarily based on Shoemaker’s lunar geologic mapping conventions and five-system lunar stratigraphic column. The Kepler map, printed in 1962 underneath the auspices of the Department of Astrogeology, was the primary NASA-funded USGS lunar map to be printed.

Eleven months after the Pulkovo symposium, in November 1961, Whitmore had the unhappy obligation of informing the Geological Society of Washington of Mason’s premature demise. The pioneering lunar mapper had taken his personal life on 31 October 1961. He was 54 years outdated.

In his memoir, Wilhelms wrote that Mason dedicated suicide “for causes that aren’t completely clear and are undoubtedly complicated, however which appear to have included non-recognition for his unique and ardent pioneering of lunar research for the U.S. Geological Survey.” Pulkovo had marked the excessive level of Mason’s lunar profession: after that, Shoemaker’s new program more and more sidelined USGS lunar research in Washington, DC.

Hackman’s involvement in lunar geologic mapping was by then additionally drawing to a detailed. His steadfast refusal to depart the Washington space proved to be profession limiting. Shoemaker transplanted the Department of Astrogeology from Menlo Park to the small city of Flagstaff, Arizona, throughout 1963, and shortly the identify “Flagstaff” grew to become synonymous with lunar and planetary mapping. Hackman accomplished yet another map for the Department of Astrogeology — a geologic map of the Moon’s Apennines area, which was printed in 1966 — however his pioneering contributions to lunar geologic mapping ceased with publication of the Kepler map.

Though the “Engineer Particular Research” remained comparatively obscure — and have become much more so after knowledge from lunar spacecraft rendered a lot of it out of date — it did handle to earn a small place in fashionable tradition. Chapter 12 of Arthur C. Clarke’s 1968 novel 2001: A House Odyssey, titled “Journey by Earthlight,” begins with an outline of the Macrocrater Province and the crater Tycho extracted from Mason’s Sheet 4 of the “Engineer Particular Research.”


“Engineer Particular Research of the Floor of the Moon,” Robert J. Hackman and Arnold C. Mason, Military Map Service, Corps of Engineers, July 1960.

“Engineer Particular Research of the Floor of the Moon,” Miscellaneous Geologic Investigations Map I-351, Robert J. Hackman and Arnold C. Mason, U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, DC, 1961.

“Memorial to Arnold Caverly Mason (1906-1961),” H. Foster, Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 73, August 1962, pp. 87-90.

To A Rocky Moon: A Geologist’s Historical past of Lunar Exploration, Don E. Wilhelms, The College of Arizona Press, 1993, pp. 37-42.

Extra Info

Across the Moon in 80 Hours (1958)

“Important Information”: A 1963 Pitch to Increase NASA’s Robotic Exploration Packages

Apollo Science and Websites: The Sonett Report (1963)

An Apollo Touchdown Close to the Nice Ray Crater Tycho (1969)

Log of a Moon Expedition (1969)

Might the Voyages within the Movie and Novel “2001: A House Odyssey” Actually Occur? (Half 1)

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