Nancy Evans

"Nancy Liggett Evans 11/22/1937 - 1/17/2020 was born to M. Margaret and Dr. Robert Samuel Liggett in Denver Colorado. She was married to E. Wayne Bamford bearing a daughter Megan Ann. She was later married to William J. Evans of Denver. Moving to California in the 70's, she was employed in planetary exploration at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA headquarters and the California Institute of Technology. Known as the "mother" of the Planetary Data System; she later enabled the digitization of the Lunar orbiter images. However, the work of her lifetime was the development, documentation and practice of veterinary acupuncture. She was working on a book about this subject, but it was not completed. She is remembered by her daughter Megan, son in law Mike Flynn, her sister Margaret Ann and many friends and acquaintances."

Image: From 2008: Lunar Orbiter Program Manager Lee Scherer and Nancy Evans in front of the restored and operational FR-900 tape drive used to retrieve Lunar Orbiter images. There was not a dry eye in the house when they both visited. Link

The Hackers Who Recovered NASA's Lost Lunar Photos, Wired

"When they learned through a Usenet group that former NASA employee Nancy Evans might have both the tapes and the super-rare Ampex FR-900 drives needed to read them, they jumped into action. They drove to Los Angeles, where the refrigerator-sized drives were being stored in a backyard shed surrounded by chickens. At the same time, they retrieved the tapes from a storage unit in nearby Moorpark, and things gradually began to take shape. Funding the project out of pocket at first, they were consumed with figuring out how to release the images trapped in the tapes."

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2020/earthise.old.new.med.2.jpg

Keith's note: Nancy Evans saw the undiscovered value in the Lunar Orbiter tapes when no one else did. NASA usually likes new, shiny things - not old, dusty things. Nancy put her money where her mouth was and fought to save these tapes as best she could - as well as the drives needed to read them. As a result the world now has an archive of ultra-high lunar imagery from the mid-1960s which can often exceed contemporary imagery and can be used to study changes in the lunar surface over the span of half a century. That imagery is now online in the Planetary Data System - which Nancy lead the development of - where it belongs, along side data from other NASA missions.

Sometimes being a true space pioneer can be as simple as not throwing things out when you are told to throw them out. History is an inexhaustible resource for new discoveries. Nancy Evans did a diving catch and saved some of that NASA history. NASA would do well to take a fresh look at its old data. Who knows what lies within that data awaiting discovery.

Ad Astra Nancy.

- Memorial information (21 March 2022).
- Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, official (archived) website
- Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, Wikipedia
- Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) Online Data Volumes, NASA PDS

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on March 8, 2020 12:34 PM.

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