Learn about the aeronautic accomplishments in the 1960s. Also learn about the useful information gathered by lunar orbiters.
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1966, a year in which aeronautics and space activities are very much in the news, creating achievements which are expanding man’s knowledge. Here is a report on some of those accomplishments. This animation shows how Surveryor 1 looks as it came in for a soft landing on the moon’s surface, the date, June 2nd, 1966. As evidenced by these photos, a spacecraft can land on the lunar surface and probably a man can walk on it. Some of the terrain is very similar to our soil. A man would leave footprints as he would in sand. Many rocks dot the moonscape, future flights will photograph other possible manned landing areas and carry instruments to measure surface hardness, information needed before men land there. Charting actual landing sites for manned moon landings is the job of the moon orbiter. Two of the 850-pound satellites have orbited the moon photographing and mapping wide areas, sometimes sweeping as low as 25 miles above the surface. Here are some of the pictures helping to determine the height and slope of lunar mountains and the depth of craters. These remarkable view show the crater Copernicus, pictures too of the back side of the moon and a view of earth from 240,000 miles in space. The Surveyor lunar orbiter combination has returned valuable scientific data about the moon, helping to pave the way for the first lunar explorers. American weather satellites are a good example of technological know-how being put to use not just for America but for other nations as well. The high-flying picture takers have given advanced warning on everything from hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico to gigantic sandstorms in North Africa. Three satellites making up the TIROS Operational System are launched for the American Weather Bureau. They are now returning daily meteorological information around the world. Nimbus, an advanced NASA research weather satellite is also launched. Nimbus takes both day and nighttime infrared pictures over the United States and over the entire earth, a predecessor to long-range weather forecasting systems. One of more than a dozen scientific satellites launched by NASA in 1966 is the Orbiting Geophysical Observatory. Nicknamed OGO, it studies space phenomena such as radiation belts, solar plasma, magnetic fields, their effects on each other and on the earth. Another satellite is greatly refining our map-making abilities. Appearing as a bright new star, it is called—carries no instruments. By reflecting sunlight from its 100-foot shiny surface, it provides an orbiting point source of light. Serving as a beacon in the sky, the satellite is simultaneously photographed by widely separated ground stations throughout the world. With the help of—in using the principles of geometry, the world’s surface can now be mapped with greatly increased accuracy. Two Pioneer spacecraft are launched into orbit around the sun, Pioneer 6 and 7. Between now and 1970, an entire series of these sun watchers will be put into orbit around the sun. Investigating and reporting, future pioneers will venture even closer to the sun, examining the solar atmosphere close-up and warning of solar storms, sending back useful data about the sun-earth relationship. More than 300 rockets are launched from various locations around the world. These small rockets play an important role as they scientifically probe the atmosphere and ionosphere, testing out equipment and experiments to be flown on future satellites and helping us better understand weather and communications. Sounding rockets, so reliable and flexible, they can be launched during sub-zero weather or from on board a ship at sea to take measurements during a solar eclipse. Total eclipses happen only once every two years. November 12, 1966 is the date of one of these occurrences, the place, South America. Certain celestial phenomena can only be recorded when a total eclipse blocks out the sun’s direct light. 300 scientists from the US and other countries, complete with equipment, gather in Sou