Moon ~ Alphonsus Ga Region

Alphonsus Crater
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera Image - Courtesy of NASA

Among the fifty Constellation program Regions of Interest, none ranked higher than 117 km-wide Alphonsus (13.4°S, 357.2°E), specifically a landing zone chosen in the northeast, not-coincidentally less than 20 km from the impact of Ranger 9 (12.83°S, 357.53°E), March 24, 1965 - though the LZ was closer-still to the inter-mixture of floor and pyroclastic fracture-zone material located there. Alphonsus is older than the Imbrium basin-forming-impact event and the apparent effect of that catastrophe (note the harsh grooving cut into the low and worn outer rim, almost certainly radiating from the center of Imbrium) remains a matter of high interest. As highly surveyed and well-photographed as Alphonsus is, some questions can only be addressed through direct assaying and sampling [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Alphonsus Ga Region Topographic Map

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

Click here to download a 72dpi JPEG image (5.0MB )

Click here to download a 150dpi JPEG image ( 22MB )

Click here to download a 300dpi JPEG 2000 image ( 30M) (Requires JPEG 2000 viewer)

Alphonsus Ga Region Detail Map

NOTE: Alphonsus is a small map I-586 in a larger map I-599
This map is a closeup detail of a larger area
The available lots for this detail are found on
PARCEL: SOL03A-35-0100-000000

48 Lots Available in this region

Credit: John T. Fountain Sr

PARCEL: SOL03A-35-0100-000000

Without Grid

Alphonsus Ga Region History

Site of the RANGER 9 Mission Crash

Heading in toward Alphonsus, a lunar crater of high scientific interest, Ranger IX sent back 5814 pictures of the surface before it crashed. The one at left, taken several score miles away, shows part of the crater floor and slumped wall of Alphonsus, a rille structure, and a varied population of craters. Ranger pictures were exciting in the wholly new details of the Moon that they provided.


A sophisticated craft for its day, the 800-lb Ranger or its launch vehicle failed in its first six tries. Then it behaved beautifully, returning thousands of pictures in its last three flights, most of them far superior to the best that could be obtained from telescopes on Earth. Rangers crashed on the Moon at nonsurvivable velocity; their work was done in the few short moments from camera turn-on to impact.

The last instant before it smashed, Ranger IX radioed back this historic image, taken at a spacecraft altitude of one-third mile about a quarter of a second before impact. The area pictured is about 200 by 240 feet, and details about one foot in size are shown. The Ranger pictures revealed nothing that discouraged Apollo planners, although they did indicate that choosing an ideally smooth site for a manned landing was not going to be an easy task.

Undaunted by initial failures, and certainly spurred on by Soviet efforts, a NASA team began to plan a long-term program of lunar exploration that would embody all necessary ingredients for success. The National Academy of Sciences was enlisted to help draw the university community into the effort. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a California Institute of Technology affiliate that had been transferred from the Army to NASA in 1958, was selected to carry out the program. JPL was already experienced in rocketry and had participated in the Explorer and Pioneer IV projects.

Article Courtesy NASA History (Archived)

LROC Narrow Angle Camera closeup (M111606491LE LRO orbit 1581, October 31, 2009) of a fracture in the northeast floor of Alphonsus. Dark pyroclastic materials are intermixed with rocks and boulders from the fracture walls and all appear to have moved in streamers toward the fracture floor at upper right. A NASA Constellation region of interest is centered to the southeast (lower right) of this view. Full frame field of view is 2.7 km [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

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Alphonsus Ga Region ~ Moon ~ SOL03A-01-0100-000000