The Lunascan Project Moon Shot Series
March 24, 1965


AS16-4658. Enlargement of approximately
40x showing a manmade crater.

This crater was excavated in the floor of Alphonsus on March 24, 1965, by the Ranger 9 spacecraft. Prior to its crash, Ranger 9 had transmitted the highest  resolution imagery obtained to that date  from any spacecraft and had taken over 5,800 photos. 


.SW portion of Section 44

A lot of strange reports of LTP activity in Alphonsus made this 153-km crater an early target for the space program. The floor of this crater was the crash-landing site of the probe Ranger 9.

Ranger 9 Spacecraft Images:

(smaller image)
Full resolution 559k, Ranger 9_a001.gif
The first Ranger 9 image of the Moon, taken with the A camera from a distance of 2378 km. The image is centered on the Mare Nubium region of the Moon, which extends to the bottom of the image. At upper left is southeastern Oceanus Procellarum. The two craters with the central peaks at right are Alphonsus, diameter 108 km, and below it Arzachel, diameter 96 km. The crater near the center at about 8:00 is 60 km Bullialdus. The frame is approximately 1050 km across and north is at 12:30. The final impact point of Ranger 9 is in the Alphonsus crater, midway between the central peak and rim at about 1:30.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 578k, Ranger 9_a035.gif
Ranger 9 image of Alphonsus crater (diameter 108 km) from a distance of 442 km, taken about 3 minutes before impact in the upper right portion of the crater. At left is the northeastern edge of Mare Nubium. The crater adjacent to Alphonsus at the bottom is the 39 km diameter Alpetragius. Davy crater is at upper left. North is at  12:30. Ranger 9 impacted the Moon on 24 March 1965 at 14:08:20 UT.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 543k, Ranger 9_a060.gif
Ranger 9 image taken 54 seconds before impact. The upraised area at lower center is the central peak of Alphonsus crater floor. This image was taken from a distance of 136 km. The impact point of Ranger 9 is to the right of the central reticle, about 60% of the way from the central reticle to the edge of the frame. The image is 60 km across and north is at 12:30.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 529k, Ranger 9_a070.gif
Last image taken by the Ranger 9 wide-angle A-camera about 3 seconds before impact. The image shows the floor of Alphonsus crater from a distance of 7.5 km. The frame is about 3.3 km across, the resolution is about 6 meters. North is at 12:30.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 499k, Ranger 9_b001.gif
Ranger 9 B-camera image from 2500 km showing Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus, and Albategnius craters. Ptolemaeus is the large (164 diameter) flat floored crater at the top. Alphonsus, diameter 108 km, is at lower left and the 114 km Albategnius crater is at lower right. The terminator runs through the lower corner. Ranger 9 impacted in Alphonsus crater 18.5 minutes after this image was taken. North is at 12:30.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 545k, Ranger 9_b035.gif
Ranger 9 camera B image of the northeast rim of Alphonsus crater at left, and southern rim of Ptolemaeus crater at the top. The image was taken from 700 km distance about 4.5 minutes before impact in Alphonsus crater. The intersecting crater rims exhibit a chaotic, mountainous terrain, in sharp contrast to the flat crater floors. The frame is approximately 120 km across and north is at 12:30. The image is centered at 12 S, 1 W.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 527k, Ranger 9 b087.gif
Final full frame taken by the Ranger 9 B-camera before impact. The image was taken from 15.4 km about 5.5 seconds before impact. The image, taken on 20 February 1965, shows the floor of Alphonsus crater and is centered at 12.8 S, 2.3 W. The frame is about 2.5 km across and north is at 12:30. Ranger 9 was the last of the Ranger series of impact missions to the Moon.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 455k, Ranger 9 p001.gif
Four images of the floor of Alphonsus crater taken by the Ranger 9 P-series cameras about 10 seconds before impact on 24 March 1965. The images are ordered by camera (clockwise from upper left) P3, P4, P2, P1. Image P3 was taken from a distance of 25.5 km and is about 2.9 km across. P4 was taken from 24.4 km and extends about 2.8 km. Image P1 is about 1.1 km across and was taken from 25.9 km. Image P2, taken from a distance of 24.7 km, is about 1 km across.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 473k, Ranger 9 p006.gif
These four images of the floor of Alphonsus crater were taken on 24 March 1965 about 5 seconds before Ranger 9 impacted on the surface. The pictures were taken by the four P-series cameras, and are (clockwise from upper left) P3, P4, P2, P1. The P3 image was taken from 14.3 km and is about 1.6 km across. The P4 image is 1.5 km across, taken at a distance of 13.1 km. P2, taken from 13.6 km, is 540 meters across, and P1, from 14.7 km, is 580 meters. North is at 1:00 for all four images.

(smaller image)
Full resolution 466k, Ranger 9_p012.gif
This image shows the last two pictures taken by Ranger 9 before impact onto the lunar surface. The images show the floor of Alphonsus crater at 12.84 S, 2.39 W. North is at 1:00 in both images. The top image was taken by camera P3 at a distance of 600 m just 0.25 seconds before impact. The frame is about 70 m across. The lower frame is from camera P1. It includes most of the area on the left of the P3 frame and was taken from 1.2 km 4.5 seconds prior to impact. The image is approximately 50 meters across. Part of the P3 frame is missing because Ranger 9 did not finish transmitting before impact. These were the last images from the Ranger program, which ended with this mission.

Lunar Orbiter Image:
This ia a Lunar Orbiter 4 image of Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus, and Arzachel.
Lunar Orbiter 5 took this image of the crater Alphonsus. This illustrates what resolution can do. What had appeared as a smooth area in low and medium power EBTI scans is now shown to be quite different.

.Apollo Mission Image:

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Apollo 16 image M-2478, looking southwards.) This oblique photo shows the crater Alphonsus on the eastern edge of Mare Nubium. Note the five dark patches along the crater floor edge. Each of these patches has a central pit. Three are located along clear fracture trends. Also, most of these pits are also elongated or irregular in shape. Thus, they are unlikely to be small impact craters. Instead, they probably mark the sites of small vulcanian eruptions. Note: The long corkscrew like pole pointing into the image from the left is part of the Apollo Orbiter.
For the latest information and images regarding the area were this
spacecraft landed, go to:
Section 44 Directory 

Relevant Sites
NSSDC Image Catalog: Ranger 9
 The Spacecraft

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