Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter: Central peak in Tsiolkovskiy crater
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.
This photo was taken in November 1960 to show the lightweight balsa wood impact limiter that was to be used in JPL’s Ranger Block II spacecraft design (Rangers 3, 4, and 5). The woman holding the sphere is Systems Design secretary Pat McKibben. The sphere was 65 cm in diameter, and it surrounded a transmitter and a seismometer instrument that was designed by the Caltech Seismological Laboratory. The sphere would separate from the spacecraft shortly before impact and survive the rough landing on the Moon. The capsule was also vacuum-filled with a protective fluid to reduce movement during impact. After landing, the instrument was to float to an upright position, then the fluid would be drained out so it could settle and switch on.
Due to a series of malfunctions in 1962, these three spacecraft either crashed without returning data or missed the Moon. In July 1964, the first successful Ranger spacecraft, Ranger 7, reached the Moon and transmitted more than 4,000 images to Earth.
A repost of this photo at another JPL history blog, asserts "The woman holding the sphere is JPL’s “Queen of Outer Space” for 1960, Sandy DeWall.". It seems that NASA held official employee beauty pageants until well into the 1970s. At which point they either realized it was an absurd thing to do, or someone sued and made them stop.
LADEE: Laser light from the LLCD instrument (orbiting the moon), as seen by a receiver at Tenerife, Canary Islands, Earth. Because we live in the future.
Image credit: ESA
Apollo 17: Astronauts Cernan & Schmitt, aboard the Apollo command module en route to the moon. (Or possibly on the way back from the moon. The archive data isn’t clear on that point.)
Apollo 17: Astronaut having a drink in zero gravity
Flow (GRAIL-B): MoonKam image taken November 16th, 2012.
Infographic from a LADEE fansite in Japan.
Juno: Raw JunoCam image of Earth’s Moon, taken during the probe’s flyby of Earth yesterday (October 9th, 2013), on its way to Jupiter. (via @juno_101, since official NASA accounts are furloughed thanks to the government shutdown.)
Moon photo (and primitive selfie) from Radio Astronomy Explorer B (Explorer 49), circa 1972. (via UMSF). It’s obviously not a high-quality photo; I’m posting it because until yesterday I didn’t realize Explorer 49 had cameras at all. It was a low-frequency radio telescope that orbited the moon, and it basically just used the moon to block out parts of the sky and cut down on interference from the Earth; it wasn’t there to study the moon at all. The cameras were on board to monitor deployment of the telescope’s four huge 230-meter(!) antenna booms. I can’t help thinking how awesome that would have looked if they’d had a modern HD video camera on board.