Lunar Orbiter
Lunar Orbiter Tapes Found
Part Three
Official NASA Press Release
Image Credit: NASA / LOIRP 
Full Size Image Here

Found by Zarniwoop...  Seems the Cat is out of the bag 

NASA Unveils 42-Year-old Historic Lunar Image

Date Released: Monday, November 10, 2008
Source: Ames Research Center

Michael Mewhinney
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Nov. 10, 2008


NASA Unveils 42-Year-Old Historic Lunar Image

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – NASA will hold a media briefing at 3 p.m. PST on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, to unveil a newly restored historic image from the early days of lunar exploration and discuss the innovative processing technique used to retrieve the image.

The briefing will take place in the Ames Research Center auditorium, Bldg. N-201. NASA officials will be available to discuss the recovery process and the scientific value of the iconic image to the next generation of explorers as NASA plans to return to the moon. A tour of the restoration facility will be offered following the briefing.

Briefing participants are:
- S. Pete Worden, Ames Research Center Director
- Greg Schmidt, Deputy Director, NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Ames
- Dennis Wingo, Image Recovery Project Lead, Huntsville, Ala.
- Charles J. Byrne, Lunar Image Expert, Middletown, N.J.

For news media representatives unable to attend, a roundtable discussion will be held following the briefing. Reporters wanting to participate must call Mike Mewhinney at 650-604-3937 by Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008.

Driving Directions: To reach NASA Ames, take the Moffett Field/NASA Parkway exit off U.S. 101 and drive east on Moffett Boulevard towards the main gate. At the main gate, pull into the small parking lot on your right and enter the Visitor Badge Office to obtain a visitor pass. The auditorium is located directly behind the administration building as you enter the center.

For more information about NASA Ames Research Center, visit:

SOURCE: NASA - 11-10-08

Kimberly Newton
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Grey Hautaluoma
Headquarters, Washington

Nov. 13, 2008

Correction -- NASA Restores Historic Lunar Orbiter Image

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – NASA released a newly restored 42-year-old image of Earth on Thursday. The Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft took the iconic photograph of Earth rising above the lunar surface in 1966. Using refurbished machinery and modern digital technology, NASA produced the image at a much higher resolution than was possible when it was originally taken. The data may help the next generation of explorers as NASA prepares to return to the moon.

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.

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.

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:

SOURCE: NASA - 11-13-08

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) Overview
Image Credit: NASA / LOIRP
Image of the Earth recovered by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
Full Size Image Here

Between 1966 and 1967 NASA sent five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft to the Moon. Images from these spacecraft were used by mission planners to select the Apollo landing sites on the moon. In the late 1960s, after the Apollo era, Lunar Orbiter analog tapes were placed in storage in Maryland. In the mid-1980s, they were transferred to JPL, under the care of Nancy Evans, co-founder of the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS).

In the late 1980's Nancy and Mark Nelson from Caltech began a project to obtain surplus FR-900 tape drives, refurbish them, and digitize the analog data on the tapes. This project was partially successful in that they were able to obtain raw analog data but due to lack of funding they were unable to continue their efforts.

Nancy Evans subsequently retired from JPL and Mark Nelson returned to private industry. They obtained the tape drives as government surplus hardware in an attempt to raise private funds for digitizing the lunar images. They were not able to get the funds and the drives sat in a barn in Sun Valley, CA for the next several decades.

In 2007, Nancy Evans tried to find someone to take the drives. Dennis Wingo heard about this and contacted Keith Cowing. Wingo and Cowng subsequetly obtained the drives and tapes and brought them up to NASA Ames Research Center.


Related Links:

Pete Worden
Ames Research Center Director
Air Force Brigadier General Pete Worden
Image Credit: USAF

Well so Pete Worden is involved now...
Who is Pete Worden?  I did a thread here on his appointment.

Retired Space Command General Heads Up NASA Ames Research Center

In 1991, when the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) decided to go ahead with developing a flight demonstration vehicle for a single stage to orbit (SSTO) system, then-Lieutenant Colonel Pete Worden supervised the efforts of Jess Sponable, Bill Gaubatz, and others, which ended up creating the revolutionary DC-X. This program proved, among other things, that one does not need hundreds of millions or billions of dollars to do valuable rocket science. The whole program ended up costing around $80 million. It showed that a reusable rocket with vertical takeoff and landing capability can be developed, and that smart use of existing technology can keep development costs to a minimum.

It also taught Worden something about bureaucratic politics between NASA, Air Force and the rest of the US Government. And, as the saying goes, “he has the scars on his back to prove it”.[/ex]

In 1994, along with Pedro Rustan, he led the innovative and still controversial Clementine Moon probe. This low-cost project, run out of a town house in Alexandria, Virginia, tested sensors for the missile defense program and also found indications, but not hard proof, that there was water ice in the Moon’s polar regions.

SOURCE: Space Review

So he was involved in the Star Wars program and the director of the Navy Clementine Mission...
He is also involved with the "Mars on Earth" Project...
And now he is heading up the project on these Lunar Orbiter tapes...
Oh well it was a nice dream... 

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