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Surveyor Probes


A US unpiloted space program of the late 1960s that was designed to investigate the bearing strength, physical structure, and chemistry of the lunar regolith by means of trenching devices and alpha-scattering analysis (see table). The spacecraft were soft-landed by retrorockets. Each was equipped with a television camera, powered by solar cells, for panoramic photography. The maria were shown to have a basaltic composition, whereas the highlands were found to be richer in calcium and aluminum. See also Luna probes; Lunar Orbiter probes; Ranger; Zond probes.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the designation of a series of American spacecraft used in lunar exploration. The Surveyor program included studies to determine the mechanical characteristics, chemical composition, and electromagnetic properties of lunar soil and the thermal conditions on the surface of the moon. Television pictures of the lunar surface were obtained in order to study the topography and structure of the soil, laser emission transmitted from the earth was recorded, and astronomical investigations were conducted, including the photographing of stars, the sun, and the planets. “Surveyor” was also the name of the program for developing and launching the spacecraft in the period 1960–68. The engineering objective of the Surveyor program was the development of a system for soft landings.

The Surveyor spacecraft consisted of an engine module containing three liquid-propellant vernier rockets and a solid-pro-pellant retro-rocket, a power module with solar and chemical batteries, radio equipment, and guidance systems for flight control and orientation. The scientific apparatus included an alpha-particle scatterer and analyzer for determining the chemical composition of the lunar soil from reflected alpha particles (Surveyor 5, 6, and 7), a scoop for investigating the mechanical properties of the lunar soil (Surveyor 3, 4, and 7), instruments for detecting magnetic substances in the soil (Surveyor 4, 5, 6, and 7), and a television camera for photographing the moon in the approach area (Surveyor 1 and 2). A panoramic television camera for taking photographs after the landing on the moon was installed in all Surveyor spacecraft; a total of 86,500 photographs of the lunar surface, the sun, and the planets was taken.

The maximum diameter of all Surveyor spacecraft (measured across the extended supports of the landing chassis) was 4.27 m; the height (with chassis folded) was approximately 3 m; the weight at launch was 995–1,038 kg; and the weight after landing was 276–297 kg. An Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle was used for the launching. A total of seven spacecraft were launched in the period 1966–68, of which Surveyor 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7 accomplished a soft landing and completed the assigned tasks.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


One whose occupation is surveying, or who is otherwise skilled in the art.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.