Saturday, 15 November 2008

New Pictures of the Moon Discovered

A woman saves the 1960s photo archives of the moon's surface



This article really is about ham radio - well more specifically how collecting and hoarding our treasures can really pay off. The absolutely cool technical stuff going on here is historical, especially with the 40th anniversary of the moon landing taking place next year on July 20th 2009.

A retired NASA employee, Nancy Evans, kept many things in her garage. But as time passed, NASA forgot. In fact, it would have thrown the machines out, if not for Nancy Evans, who had worked the project. She stored the machines in her garage for more than 20 years, and when NASA wanted to recycle the moon tapes, she took those, too.

"I had spent most of my working life saving data, and salvaging data, seeing that it got put safely in the planetary data system. I wasn't about to let this huge data set be thrown away," said Nancy Evans, a former NASA/JPL researcher.

In the late 1960s, NASA sent five Lunar Orbiter missions to photograph the surface of the moon and gain a better understanding of the lunar environment in advance of the Apollo program. Data were recorded on large magnetic tapes and transferred to photographic film for scientific analysis. When these images were first retrieved from lunar orbit, only a portion of their true resolution was available because of the limited technology available.

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, located at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., is taking analog data from original recorders used to store on tape and 1,500 of the original tapes, converting the data into digital form, and reconstructing the images. The restored image released Thursday confirms data from the original tapes can be retrieved from the newly-restored tape drives from the 1960s when combined with software from 2008.

"I'm glad that we could offer our services to the project team and play a part in the recovery of such an historic image of the moon," said Ames Director S. Pete Worden.

Future images will be made publicly available when they are fully processed and calibrated. The intent of this project is to facilitate, wherever possible, the broadest dissemination and public use of these images.

"It's a tremendous feeling to restore a 40-year-old image and know it can be useful to future explorers," said Gregory Schmidt, deputy director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute at Ames. "Now that we've demonstrated the capability to retrieve images, our goal is to complete the tape drives' restoration and move toward retrieving all of the images on the remaining tapes," he added.

Another, image of the lunar surface now shows details as small as one meter, which they can compare with future mapping missions.

"This is going to show us how the moon is changing. We fully expecting to see some new craters," said Greg Schmidt, Deputy Director of Lunar Sciences.

A classic case of pulling treasure from what might have been in the trash and all because Nancy Evans was a bit of a packrat.

As the images are processed, they will be submitted to the Planetary Data System, which NASA's Space Science Mission Directorate in Washington sponsors in cooperation with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The images also will be calibrated with standard mapping coordinates from the U.S. Geological Survey's Astrogeology Research Program in Flagstaff, Ariz.

NASA will launch the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2009 to map the moon's surface. The restoration of the Lunar Orbiter images to high quality images will provide the scientific community with a baseline to measure and understand changes that have occurred on the moon since the 1960s. These data could help mission planners assess the long-term risk to lunar inhabitants from small meteor impacts and establish longitude and latitude lines for lunar mapping.

"This effort was made possible by the vision and dedication of Apollo-era NASA employees, independent researchers, and a true veteran team of engineers and young students," said Dennis Wingo, the program lead for the project.

"We liken it to archeology. Techno-archeology," said Dennis Wingo, an imaging expert.

NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and Innovative Partnerships Program Office in Washington provided initial funding for the project. Engineering and logistics for the project team were provided by Wingo of SkyCorp, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., with donated services by Keith Cowing from SpaceRef Interactive, Inc., Reston, Va., under the auspices of Alliance of Commercial Enterprises and Education for Space, and the NASA Lunar Science Institute.

To view the image and for more information about the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/moonmars/features/LOIRP

and

http://www.moonviews.com

For more information about NASA's exploration program, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration

Download video about the LOIRP project.

Thanks to NASA Ames, JPL in Pasedena and ABC News (KG0-TV, San Fransisco)

2 comments:

SBL Photo Restoration services said...

Quite informative...

TheFool said...

getting wavy video line to line up ?


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3210/04.html