The Soviet Luna 3 had transmitted the first image of the far side of the Moon in 1959 but it was of very poor quality. Lunar Orbiter I was the first robotic spacecraft to capture high quality photographs of the Moon from orbit, transmitting to humankind its first detailed views of the backside of our satellite and photographs of stunning beauty.
Its mission was critical to reveal and map the previously unknown landscapes of our satellite. On Lunar Orbiter I, the focal plane shutter on the high resolution complement of the camera failed to tip properly but 13 high resolution frames were still returned, offering the very first high resolution view of the backside of the Moon in history.
This high resolution photograph (partial view of Lunar Orbiter frame I-38H2) was taken with the 610mm lens from an altitude of 1385 km. Latitude 7.90° S, Longitude 157.27° W and shows incredible detail of the lunar farside. It is centered on the 57-km Crater Korolev M inside the giant 437-km Crater Korolev identified as Basin XV at the time of the mission. The small keyhole shaped crater (top of image) to the north of Korolev M was a designated control point, CP-1, during the Apollo 8 mission. Measurements taken from orbit on this point improved the accuracy of mapping of the lunar farside.
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© All texts by Victor Martin-Malburet