First close-up photographs of another world

Space Mission
Ranger 7, 31 July 1964

Ranger 7

Photo Description
Vintage gelatin silver prints on fibre-based Kodak paper, 20.3 x 25.4 cm (8 x 10 in), with NASA captions and A Kodak Paper watermarks on versos, (NASA Kennedy Space Center)

Four consecutive views depicting the first close up photographs of another world taken by the crash lander Ranger 7 on its way down to the lunar surface.
NASA’s lunar assault began with a spectacular breakthrough: the “crashlander” Ranger 7 was the first space probe to send close-up pictures of the Moon before it impacted on the lunar surface on July 31, 1964. Ranger 7 photographed its way down to target in a lunar plain, named Mare Cognitum (the Known Sea) following the success of the mission, south of the Crater Copernicus, at latitude 10.35°S and longitude 20.58°W. The clock, frame numbers, and four buttons across the top of the picture are related to the recordings of the films at the Goldstone station of the deep space network. The black markings on the photograph are used to provide scale measurements.”The Ranger VII lunar lander was the first true success in the United States’ early quest to explore the Moon and heralded a new era of exploration that saw dramatically more mission successes than failures. […] The images, which showed the lunar surface in stunning detail, were the harbinger of future human exploration of the Moon.”