Abandoned McDonald's Serves Restored NASA Moon Pictures

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May 5, 2009—It might sound like going from the frying pan into the Frymaster, but it's actually a good thing that historic moon pictures have been moved from dusty storage to an old McDonald's—a "pretty cool place" for restoration work.

© 2009 National Geographic (AP)

Unedited Transcript

Inside this abandoned Mcdonald's a bit of the past is moving into the future.

Where customers used to down Big Macs, an ancient video tape machine spits out grainy images.

Behind the counter, next to the Frymaster, there are endless stacks of tape reels.

The former fast-food joint has now become mission command for a new effort to save some old NASA history.

SOUNDBITE (English): Dennis Wingo, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project: "We may have ended up in some lab behind the NASA fence but instead we're in this actually pretty cool place."

And that cool place holds more than 15 hundred video reels from the 1960's.

On those tapes are mankind's first close-up images of the lunar landscape, rescued from four decades of dusty storage inside NASA.

SOUNDBITE (English): Dennis Wingo, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project: "These would have ended up in a dumpster."

Instead, Wingo and his team of engineers are using modern technology to recover the original images.

UPSOUND (English): Dennis Wingo, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project: "What we want to do is to get this to where we can do it in real time on the computer as we're digitising it."

Four decades after these images were taken, they are still the most detailed pictures of the moon ever taken.

SOUNDBITE (English): Dennis Wingo, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project: "No one has done any better. The Europeans haven't. The Chinese haven't. The Japanese haven't and even NASA after that never had any better, higher resolution."

This summer NASA will launch a lunar orbiter that will take new pictures of the moon's surface.

Comparing new images to those taken 40 years ago will help scientists understand how the moon has changed and the impact meteor strikes have had on both the moon and the earth.

All taking place in what's being affectionately called "Mcmoons."

SOUNDBITE (English): Dennis Wingo, Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project: "Helped bring the history back from oblivion and now it's going to become a value even today what we did 40 years ago."

All happening in an old McDonalds restaurant near San Francisco Bay.

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