MOON PICTURES: 1960s Orbiter Images Restored

MOON PICTURES: 1960s Orbiter Images Restored
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This image from Lunar Orbiter 4 shows the moon's south pole.

The new NASA spacecraft LCROSS is slated to slam into the moon's south pole this fall, and this 1967 image was restored to help the LCROSS scientists choose an impact site.

Until the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter went into orbit last month, the 1966-1967 Lunar Orbiter missions had made the highest-resolution images of the moon to date, and their photographs--stored today on magnetic tape--are routinely used for moon research and mission planning.

A project to restore the images from the original tapes has completely recovered five of the thousand images to date, using a high-powered combination of 1960s tape drives and modern computers.

But the restoration project has a newfound sense of urgency: "The very last person in the world that can refurbish these [tape drives] is retiring next year," said Dennis Wingo, a leader of the project.

(View the "Earthrise" image in zoomable high-res and compare it to the unrestored image.)



— Photograph courtesy Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
 
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