Some guys, a few years back, found a treasure trove of date from the Lunar Program, specifically a lot of analog tapes from the Lunar Orbiter Missions of 1966-1967. Not only are they fragile, but the means to read them were practically non-existent. So they did what any technical types who could would do, they set up shop at Moffett Field, and went to work. They got NASA to contribute some, and they went to the drawing boards (literally) and reconstructed, rebuilt, and re-engineered the needed equipment (seriously, some of the equipment they devised from looking at the mathematics of the old systems).
But they need more money. NASA’s contribution has run out. They have a rockethub crowdsourcing project.
We are looking for people to help us complete the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP). We call this technoarchaeology – mining the past to support science in the future. Between 1966 and 1967, NASA sent five Lunar Orbiter missions to the Moon. Their mission was to photograph the lunar surface to help identify future Apollo mission landing sites. The spacecraft carried 70mm photographic film which was developed automatically in lunar orbit aboard the spacecraft. The developed film was then scanned with a light beam and this modulated a signal which was sent back to Earth.
Each image was archived on analog data tape and printed out as photographs for use by the Lunar Orbiter analysis team. In addition to looking for landing sites, the Lunar Orbiters also produced several stunning photos unlike anything ever seen before. Of note are the “Earthrise” image taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 and the “Picture of the Century” – an oblique view inside the crater Copernicus, taken by Lunar Orbiter 2.
I think it’s worth it. I certainly think spreading the word is worth it.