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Space Age Archaeology

Surveyor 3 - the only multi-occupation site on the Moon

12 Feb 2017, 02:10 UTC
Surveyor 3 - the only multi-occupation site on the Moon
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I've been looking at the amazing pictures of astronaut Alan Bean visiting the Surveyor 3 robotic lunar landing craft to remove a camera for return to Earth, in 1969. Something so obvious suddenly struck me and I wondered why I had not seen it before.Surveyor 3 was part of a series of landing missions that left seven craft on the surface of the Moon. In November 1969, Apollo 12 landed on the edge of a crater, just 180 m from Surveyor 3, launched two years before. The two astronauts, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, walked over the Surveyor 3 and removed a camera and a couple of other pieces for analysis. (This analysis showed evidence of 'scouring' on the Surveyor surfaces, a result of dust stirred up by the Apollo 12 landing).Image courtesy of NASAAll of the Apollo sites are of a particular type: there's a landing module, numerous places where samples were taken, cameras and flags set up, the "toss zone" of discarded objects, the odd rover, and countless astronaut bootprints. Surveyor 3 is the only lunar site with astronaut footprints that was not a human landing mission. So you have an interesting mismatch of archaeological traces - a ...

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