Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lunar Orbiter Image Restoration Project: Last Mile

Until the original tapes were found, stored in an abandoned McDonalds Restaurant on site at Ames Research Center, and subsequently read and remastered using totally unavailable equipment built from scratch, this represents our best view of of the rugged slopes of the central peaks of Copernicus crater, a facsimile of a photograph developed in lunar orbit and radioed back to Earth from Lunar Orbiter V, August 17, 1967. For comparison, see the photographs that follow below [USGS]. 
From moonandback video, May 2010
Dennis Wingo

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) is a public/private project to recover, from the original master tapes, the image data from the five spacecraft NASA sent to the moon in the 1960’s and provide it to the scientific community and the public.  The first is done through a peer review process and then the data is provided to the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) for archiving.  We also have a public website through NASA at the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) at the NASA Ames Research Center.  This missive is to explain the background of the mission, the character of the data, and why it is important to our scientific and national history.

At this time we have completed over 90% of the work necessary to archive and publish these images.  However, sometimes that last 10% is the hardest and we have in the dozens of terabytes of data to complete the processing of our image captures.  Why doesn't NASA pay for this?  They have paid for the vast majority of our work.  NASA’s Space Science Mission Directorate, NASA Ames, and and SSERVI have been magnificent in support of our work.  However, NASA’s budget is severely constrained, and for legacy projects like this, it is our work in technoarchaeology (literally the archaeology of technology) that is saving this data for posterity.

Field of view captured in by Lunar Orbiter V in 1967, shown in the image further above, outlined on a more recent photographic survey by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), LROC M181302109R, spacecraft orbit 11832, January 15, 2012 [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
When we started this project, it was only to save the images of Lunar Orbiter’s II and III.  However, in 2011 NASA asked us how much it would cost to complete all five orbiters.  We estimated $400,000.  NASA provided $300,000 of this, leaving a gap of $100,000.  This is why we ask for your support in our crowdfunding effort, to complete this task.  These images, provided on the SSERVI website, will be free to the public with no copyright.  The American taxpayer paid for this effort and even though our company has also contributed materially to the effort and we are extending this through your generous donations through crowdfunding, we want this to be provided free of charge, or any intellectual property right restrictions.

Detail from LOIRP Lunar Orbiter V (Image 151-H1 -Copernicus Central Uplift) The LOIRP Image was derived from the original analog tapes from the LO ground stations and has 4x the dynamic range of the LO film archive. This image with a resolution of about 2 meters, taken on August 16, 1967 from 103 km. This version of the LO-V-151-H image is from the original ground station tape from the Woomera ground station in Australia (tape W5-58).
NASA had stored these original analog data tapes for over four decades, but if it were not for our project and former NASA archivist Nancy Evan’s preservation of the tape drives in her barn, this archive at its best quality would be lost to history.  Following is a description of the Lunar Orbiters, their camera, the images and what we are doing to preserve this legacy of the early Apollo program.

Background on the Lunar Orbiter

In 1966-67 NASA sent five spacecraft to the Moon to do a high resolution photo reconnaissance of the surface in preparation for the manned Apollo lunar landings.  This was the first time in human history, other than a few closeups before impact from the Ranger spacecraft, that the moon had been seen up close and personal.

Enjoy the full post from Dennis Wingo, HERE.

Related Posts:
The LOIRP time machine looks back 43 years (June 3, 2010)
New releases from Lunar Orbiter II (1966) - (May 7, 2010)
Boulders of Copernicus (December 11, 2009)
LOIRP: Boulder Trails on the Moon (December 10, 2009)
Lunar Orbiter's originals vs. LOIRP restorations (December 9, 2009)
New restored detail from Lunar Orbiter II (December 8, 2009)
LOIRP configures second FR-900 tape drive (November 12, 2009)
The importance of lunar water (September 28, 2009)
LOIRP remasters the Moon's South Pole (August 14, 2009)
Lockheed Martin donates Clean-Room to LOIRP (August 12, 2009)
LOIRP astounds again, re-release of LO-II0162 (1967)
with each of three high-res sub-frames
 (August 10, 2009)
Full Earth, as seen by Orbiter V (August 7, 2009)
Lunar Orbiter III-154-H2 (June 16, 2009)
LOIRP recovers Lunar Orbiter IV lunar South Pole image from 1967 (June 16, 2009)
LOIRP recovers detail of Fra Mauro and future landing site of Apollo 14 (June 11, 2009)
New LOIRP high res Lunar Orbiter image of western Oceanus Procellarum (June 10, 2009)
LOIRP recovers image of Ranger 8 impact (June 9, 2009)
LOIRP's "Pictures of the Century" (March 23, 2009)
More astounding new detail from LOIRP (February 26, 2009)
Breakthrough in Lunar Orbiter photograph remastering (February 20, 2009)

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