"Sometimes, we just pick an image because it looks really cool," said Dennis Wingo, a head of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project. This newly-restored Lunar Orbiter 3 image from 1967, for example, shows the far eastern side of Oceanus Procellarum.
In general, the restoration project has serious roots. The photographs of the moon's surface by the five 1960s Lunar Orbiter spacecraft are very comprehensive. It's hoped that scientists will be able to detect every impact crater made in the last 40 years by comparing the 1966-67 images with contemporary Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images. (See some of the first LRO photographs.
By figuring out an average rate of impact, "you can establish the risk [of being hit by a meteorite] to the crew that'll be working on the lunar surface" in future manned moon missions, Wingo said.
Processes that change the moon slowly, such as outgassing, could also be detected, he said.
Photograph courtesy Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project