Moon: March 2013 Archives

The Floor of Copernicus

Copernicus Crater Mosaic, NASA Lunar Science Institute

"This mosaic of the floor of crater Copernicus was created by combining the following 24 high resolution images taken by Lunar Orbiter V on 16 August 1967. By comparing old images of the Moon to recent images, LOIRP offers a time machine of sorts, whereby changes in the lunar surface over the past half century can be identified. LOIRP has also done original science by comparing their highest resolution images with the latest high resolution lunar images to look for changes that could indicate quakes, meteor impacts, or volcanism. But more work remains to be done."

Keith's note: Please Support Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) at RocketHub

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project Seeks Public Support To Retrieve Apollo Era Moon Images

"The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) is seeking support from the public as it continues its efforts to recover and enhance Moon images from the 1960s using modern technology. The LOIRP was started with funding by several volunteers in 2008. The original volunteer effort was followed by financial support from NASA which has now been exhausted. Five Lunar Orbiter missions were sent to the Moon between 1966-67 to map the lunar surface to help select landing sites for Apollo human missions.

The LOIRP managed to obtain original tape drives from the 1960s (covered in dust in a farmer's barn) and a full set of original Lunar Orbiter analog data tapes (threatened with erasure) containing all images sent back to Earth by the five spacecraft. None of this had been functional or usable since the late 1960s. From the onset the LOIRP has been run on a shoestring budget. Housed in an abandoned McDonalds restaurant at Moffett Field, California, the LOIRP team used spare parts bought on eBay, developed new hardware reverse-engineered from math equations in original documentation, modern laptops, the expertise of retired engineers and scientists, and the dedication of young students."

According to Science magazine: NASA Dives Into Its Past to Retrieve Vintage Satellite Data:

"They cleaned, rebuilt, and reassembled one drive, then designed and built equipment to convert the analog signals into an exact 16-bit digital copy. "It was like dumpster diving for science," says Cowing, co-team leader at LOIRP. In November 2008, the team recovered their first image: a famous picture of an earthrise taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 on 23 August 1966. The team's new high-resolution version was so crisp and clear that it revealed many previously obscured details, such as a fog bank lying along the coast of Chile. "We thought if the Earth's surface looks that good a quarter of a million miles away, what does the moon's surface look like 100 miles beneath it?" says Cowing."

Keith's note: A number of us have been donating time and money to this project since 2008. Please support the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at RocketHub as our team works to finish this project.

More information on this image can be found here and here as we overlaid Nimbus II imagery on a Lunar Orbiter image of Earth. Oh yes, on this date, in New York City, just over the Earth's limb as seen from lunar orbit, the Beatles were preparing to play at Shea Stadium ...


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This page is an archive of entries in the Moon category from March 2013.

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