An archive of letters, documents and photographs relating to the interception by British astronomers of photographs transmitted from the lunar surface by the Soviet lander Luna-9, comprising:
1. 10 photographs taken by Luna-9, gelatin silver prints, 6 x 8½ inches (150 x 220 mm) or smaller on 8 x 10 inch (200 x 255 mm) sheets, 2 or 3 of which are copy prints of wire photographs.
2. Period photocopies of TASS press releases regarding Luna-9, 23 pp, stapled, together with a letter of transmittal from Philip E. Culbertson, February 21, 1966, to Eugene M. Shoemaker, on NASA letterhead.
3. Small group of correspondence relating to the Luna-9 imagery and data, February-April, 1966, 18 pp in all, including the following: file copy of a wire sent by Eugene M. Shoemaker, from Flagstaff, AZ, February 7, 1966, to Sir Bernard Lovell, congratulating him on the interception of Luna-9 image telemetry and requesting "film negatives of the reconstituted pictures and duplicate magnetic tapes"; original typed letter signed by Lovell, Jodrell Bank, February 11, 1966, to Shoemaker, reporting than an official from "a certain government agency in this country" will hand-carry tapes to the US; 2 further letters from Lovell to Shoemaker; file copy of a wire sent by Shoemaker to Lovell, March 2, 1966, reporting that "Repeated inquiries with officials at NASA have failed to disclose the whereabouts of the duplicate magnetic tapes and film"; original typed letter signed by Shoemaker, Flagstaff, AZ, March 5, 1966, to Homer E. Newell, Associate Administrator, Office of Space Science, NASA, complaining "about the loss of confidence of our British colleagues in NASA's handling of their material."
Provenance: Eugene M. Shoemaker; Leonard D. Jaffe.
On February 3, 1966 Luna-9 became the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on any planetary body other than Earth. The Soviet authorities did not immediately release the images received from the lander, but staff at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in England picked up the signals, identified them as being in the format used by newspapers to wire photographs, and published the images. (Some believed the use of unencrypted signals was a deliberate move by the Soviets.)
The present archive is composed of correspondence between Culbertson (Director of Lunar Mission Studies, Advanced Manned Missions Planning group, NASA), Shoemaker (Principal Investigator for Television Experiment, Project Surveyor, at the US Geological Survey), and Lovell (Director of Jodrell Bank Observatory). In addition to the scientists' observations about the Luna-9 images (Shoemaker writes that they "represent not only a magnificent technical achievement but are very rich in information about the lunar surface"), the correspondence charts the rather haphazard handling of this significant material.