Lunar Orbiter


21.90h x 17.50w in



Lunar Orbiter, 1967

Vintage gelatin silver print

21.90h x 17.50w in



Inventory Number: NA000075

Size: 21.90h x 17.50w in

Medium: Vintage gelatin silver print

Year Made: 1967

Status: Available 


Depicting the Moon in all of its glory, the Lunar Orbiter photographs were captured over the course of five unmanned missions from 1966 through 1967. The photographs were part of a program designed to assess all potential landing sites for the Apollo mission, and provided baseline imagery for future geologic analysis of the lunar surface. The first mission is famous for producing the first photograph of the Earth from the Moon, taken in August 1966.

Derived from negatives captured with an advanced imaging system, these vintage gelatin silver prints mapped 99 percent of the Moon’s surface in high-resolution. The Lunar Orbiters used a complex imaging system that includes a dual-lens camera, a film-processing unit, a readout scanner, and a film apparatus. The resulting rolls of 70mm film were then processed, scanned, and transmitted back to Earth.

Though an inherently scientific mission, the Lunar Orbiter program resulted in a series of beautiful, haunting images of the glowing orb hanging in the night’s sky. The varying shades of black and white, and spectacular views of the lunar surface create silent images of tremendous beauty that magnificently show the Moon’s relief and craters. Upon their release, the photographs captivated audiences who for the first time saw detailed photographs of the Moon from space.

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