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My grandfather who was involved with the DFVLR (now DLR) had all sorts of space-memorabilia in his basement, including a roll of pictures I've found. Does anyone know what mission they are from and what planet/body is shown (I assume it's probably from a lunar lander)?

A roll of black and white images

A view of what I assume is the moon during landing leg impact2

What I assume to be a landing leg on the moon

Here's the text from next to one of the pictures in case it's too hard to read:

A2906     (What I assume is the name of the photo increments with each photo)
006 11              17 054  (the "054" number increments each photo)
316 071400.992    (This number seems to be a timestamp, increases)
MISSION    F
STN DSS11

CAM        3
AZ     -45.0°    (Camera azimuth and elevation change as what appears to be a panorama is taken)
EL     -55.0°

FOC      2.4M
F.L.   NARROW
IRIS     6.5f
SHTR  NORMAL

I.S     OFF

ELEC   67.4°C
VID    51.5°C

CAL    4.78V

EREC     45°  (This number changes from photo to photo)
FILE  05637   (This number increments per photo)

EDIT: This seems to be from one of the Surveyor missions, here is a project where very similar images are being digitized.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you know the approximate time period he was working (even down to the decade would help)? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Nov 22 '20 at 16:24
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    $\begingroup$ STN DSS11 could be the receiving station, Pioneer Deep Space Station at Goldstone. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Nov 22 '20 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ Can you provide a few more timestamp samples? My first wild-ass guess is that 316 is the mission day and 071400.992 is seconds in the day. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Nov 22 '20 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ Great find! Consider posting your own answer. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Nov 22 '20 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ The surveyor 600-line images apparently took around 4.6ish seconds between each transmission (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveyor_5) $\endgroup$ – IronEagle Nov 22 '20 at 17:22
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These images appear to be from Surveyor 6, which sent images from the moon in November of 1967.

The Surveyor images were recorded on 70mm film. This article about digitizing images from the Surveyor missions shows pictures formatted identically (albeit shown in negative) to these.

The Surveyors had both letter designations (rarely seen) and numeric; Mission F was Surveyor 6.

Assuming the timestamp is formatted as day-of-year and seconds, the date is November 12th, two days after Surveyor 6's landing (the lander returned useful data up to November 24th). The timestamps being about 4.8 seconds apart is consistent with the 4.6 seconds it took to scan and transmit an image from the lander's television camera in 600-line mode.

STN DSS11 would be an identifier for the receiving station, the Pioneer Deep Space Station at Goldstone. DSS11 was constructed in 1958.

More details on Surveyor imagery available in a recent paper:

During the mission, the images were received by the Deep Space Stations at Goldstone, California; Canberra, Australia; and Madrid, Spain. Goldstone passed the imagery to the JPL Space Flight Operations Facility (SFOF) by a microwave link. Recording of the image was performed by analog tape machines and simultaneously recorded by two 70 mm photographic cameras, one located at Goldstone and the other in the SFOF at JPL. One camera’s 70 mm negative film was Bimat, developed using the same Eastman Kodak process used in Lunar Orbiter imagery. This process yields both a negative and a positive, both designated as first-generation copies. The negative copy was first used to make positive roll prints for first look by experimenters and engineering teams.

Nasa report TR-32-1262 has several images from Surveyor 6, including one from about 7 minutes after the images shown here (Image 57 in the paper, taken day 316, 07:20:39 GMT). You may be able to find a corresponding image in the roll.

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  • $\begingroup$ Neat! I was trying to find that triangular, 3-holed fitting on the leg in a picture, and there it is in the NASA report. Nice job. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Nov 23 '20 at 0:27

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