Space: Photographing the Moon

Lunar Orbiter 1 last week became the first U.S. spacecraft to orbit the moon—and the first orbiter ever to transmit lunar photographs back to earth, where Americans could see them live on TV amid their afternoon soap operas.

Snapped from 133 miles away, the orbiter's first pictures showed the crater-pocked flatlands and adjacent ridges of the Mare Smythii region on the right-hand rim near the lunar equator. Later, the spacecraft snapped a 930-mi.-high shot of the moon's mysterious back side. Even so, the strong picture signals from the high-resolution lens were extremely fuzzy, primarily because of difficulties in the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!