On April 17, 1967, NASA’s Surveyor 3 spacecraft launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on a mission to the lunar surface. A little more than two years after it landed on the moon with the goal of paving the way for a future human mission, the Surveyor 3 spacecraft got a visit from Apollo 12 Commander Charles Conrad Jr. and astronaut Alan L. Bean, who snapped this photo on November 20, 1969.
After Surveyor 1’s initial studies of the lunar surface in 1966, Surveyor 3 made further inroads into preparations for human missions to the moon. Using a surface sampler to study the lunar soil, Surveyor 3 conducted experiments to see how the lunar surface would fare against the weight of an Apollo lunar module. The moon lander, which was the second of the Surveyor series to make a soft landing on the moon, also gathered information on the lunar soil’s radar reflectivity and thermal properties in addition to transmitting more than 6,000 photographs of its surroundings.
The Apollo 12 Lunar Module, visible in the background at right, landed about 600 feet from Surveyor 3 in the Ocean of Storms. The television camera and several other pieces were taken from Surveyor 3 and brought back to Earth for scientific examination. Here, Conrad examines the Surveyor’s TV camera prior to detaching it. Astronaut Richard F. Gordon Jr. remained with the Apollo 12 Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit while Conrad and Bean descended in the LM to explore the moon.
Image Credit: NASA