DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program
Presentation of Mission A
[195] On September 29, 1965, the Lunar Orbiter Project Office at Langley formally presented the Mission A plan to the Surveyor/Orbiter Utilization Committee. It would be a [196] Type I mission, sampling various lunar surface areas in the Apollo zone of interest. Lunar Orbiter's camera would assess selected sites for their suitability for Apollo and Surveyor landings.34 An excerpt from the OSSA Review briefly describes Mission A:
A few pictures will be taken on the initial orbit. The location could range from 60 east to 110 east and will be determined later. In the final orbit, ten separate sites will each be covered by a single photographic pass. Briefly, site one is the only example of a dark mare in the Apollo areas of interest. Dark mare are considered the smoothest of the various terrain types. Site two is a highland site with smooth basins. Site three is in the same longitude as Ranger VIII. It is a ray mare probably not quite as rough as shown by Ranger photographs. Site four is a highland site which will contain photographs of each of the four highland terrain units. Site five, in Sinus Medii, has high potentiality for Apollo and Surveyor landing areas. Site six contains upland units and a deformed crater floor. Site seven is a good example of a mare with sinuous ridges. Site eight is a smoother mare with linear ridges. Site nine is located in the old crater floor Flamsteed and is probably the prime Surveyor landing site at this time. Site ten is outside of the Apollo area but is a dark mare and may be utilized f or Surveyor.35
Langley had done a thorough job of screening each area for compatibility with Apollo and Surveyor needs and with Lunar Orbiter photographic capability. The Committee approved the plan.
[197] After winning the SOUC's approval for Mission A Scherer made a presentation to a meeting of the Planetology Subcommittee of the OSSA Space Science Steering Committee on October 21 and 22. With him were Harold Masursky and Lawrence Rowan of USGS. Scherer reviewed the procedure for selecting the ten areas on the lunar surface which the first Lunar Orbiter would photograph. He stressed that the mission's objective was to obtain detailed topographic data for assessing the suitability of specific areas as possible Apollo and Surveyor landing sites.36
Masursky explained in detail how the Lunar Orbiter Program could apply the methods of structural and stratigraphic geological mapping developed for Earth studies when these were augmented by telescopic observations and the Ranger pictures of the Moon. Rowan outlined recent findings concerning crater densities, surface roughness, and albedo of the Moon. He specifically described the ten selected areas which Lunar Orbiter would photograph on Mission A. He also stressed that the USGS work had led him to conclude that crater density measurements were not too useful in the selection of landing sites, but they aided in distinguishing between rayed and non-rayed surfaces. This, he pointed out, suggested a relationship between surface [198] roughness and albedo.37
Following this meeting the Planetology Subcommittee drew up a resolution, based upon the Lunar Orbiter Program Office's reports and the USGS information, which it forwarded to Oran W. Nicks. Although the resolution did not influence mission plans for the first Orbiter, it showed the Subcommittee's direction of thinking:
The Planetology Subcommittee is disturbed that there are no scientific missions planned to take advantage of the unique capabilities of Lunar Orbiter for conducting investigations of the Moon, after the five flights in support of Apollo and Surveyor lunar landing site selection. In view of the opportunity to perform certain experiments (geodesy, gamma ray. X-ray magnetometry, microwave, and non-imaging radar) in orbit about the Moon before the Apollo Applications Program, the Subcommittee recommends that every effort be made to undertake Lunar Orbiter scientific missions at the earliest possible date.38
The Subcommittee did recognize the priorities which placed Apollo and Surveyor requirements before any purely scientific objectives in the Lunar Orbiter Program and at its Spring 1966 meeting recommended "that major attention be given to photography of sites of scientific interest, following the initial, successful Lunar Orbiter flight. These data are of particular importance in the planning and [199] ultimate scientific value of both manned and unmanned lunar surface missions."39
Mission planning activities continued to develop Lunar Orbiter's role in fulfilling Apollo and Surveyor requirements during the remainder of 1965 and the first quarter of 1966. Funding and hardware problems in the program made up the other significant activity during 1965.