Moon Views

In the early 1960s, NASA sent several probes to the moon to map the lunar surface in preparation for the Apollo manned landings. Once the sites were chosen, the data tapes — and their drives — were mothballed, and the data was never studied in depth. In 2007 Dennis Wingo, author of Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon’s Resources and the president of the aerospace engineering company SkyCorp, asked former NASA employee Keith Cowing if he could help restore the tape drives and create archives of the data that modern computers could read. Cowing, a long time friend of This is True (he hosted True’s web site in the early days), convinced old colleagues at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., to find space for the equipment, and Cowing initially paid for the project himself. The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project opened shop …in a closed McDonald’s restaurant on the Ames campus. Moon Views, one of several space-related web sites that Cowing runs, describes the project and shows examples of their results, which include applying modern image processing techniques to the 1960s data. And certainly, there is much more to come. Fascinating! (RC)

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