TURNER, RALPH. B.1935.
High relief of the Mare Cognitum, made at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson, AZ, April, 1965, gray epoxy, 840 x 840 mm, inscribed below "Mare Cognitum | R. Turner | April 1965," and above "North," "Scale 1:500," and with coordinates, framed.
CAST FROM TURNER'S FIRST PLANETOLOGICAL MODEL. In 1964, Oregon-born Ralph Turner was teaching sculpture at the University of Arizona in Tucson, when, in his words, "Dr Gerard Kuiper called on me to help make some relief models of the Moon from the new images arriving from the space probes in preparation for landing on the Moon." Kuiper [1905-1973] spent most of his career at the University of Chicago, but moved to Tucson in 1960 to found the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. He was instrumental in lunar cartography and was involved in selecting landing sites for the Apollo program. Turner continues, "the next year I joined the Laboratory as a Research associate full time and left the art Department. However, I got called to a position at Syracuse University in New York State in 1966 and went there with the stipulation that I could bring some of the lunar research with me, which everyone agreed to. So I continued to make models from 1964 to 1975, under one arrangement or another while I taught and did sculpture of my own" (biography on fineartamerica.com).
The present model was cast from the first lunar relief Turner produced while working for Kuiper. An unnamed lunar mare in the Oceanus Procellarum had been selected as the target for the impact probe Ranger VII, the first American spacecraft to return close up images of the Moon's surface. Ranger VII transmitted its images on July 31, 1964, and the unnamed sea became known as Mare Cognitum ("The Sea that has become known"). Turner worked from a combination of Ranger photographs, telescope observation, and by shining light across his model and comparing the shadows with those on the Moon. This unconventional method proved to be extremely accurate.
Illustrated: Kuiper 1965 p 60.