China has published its first map of the entire lunar surface. The map was created using imagery obtained by the China's Chang'e 1 lunar orbiting spacecraft. Larger image here. We hope to produce something like this as well once all of our Lunar Orbiter images have been recovered and enhanced.
November 2008 Archives
"With much fanfare NASA has re-released the earliest US image of the Earth as seen from the Moon. This Orbiter 1 image was originally released in 1966 when it was a unique, never before seen view that dramatically documented our new prowess in space. The recent re-release follows a long saga of saving and repairing the large 40 year old tape drives needed to read the massive tapes that record the data."
Earthrise 1966, NASA Earth Observatory
"Long before man journeyed to the moon and looked back at the tiny, fragile planet that houses humanity, remote orbiters were sending back pictures of home. Sent to scope out potential landing sites on the Moon, the series of five Lunar Orbiters also sent back the earliest views of Earth from another celestial body. This image, taken in 1966 by Lunar Orbiter 1, is among the first views of Earth from the Moon. In the black-and-white image, a crescent Earth floats majestically behind the lumpy surface of the Moon. Though clouds swirl across the atmosphere, hiding nearly all identifying features on the surface beneath, the western edge of Africa is faintly visible in the upper left. The Earth's North Pole points toward the top of the image."
Moon photo goes high-def, Leader Post
"A little over 40 years ago, to help it select potential landing sites for its Apollo lunar missions, NASA sent five unmanned spacecraft over two years to orbit the moon and photograph pretty much every inch of its surface."
NASA restores 42-yr-old image of Earth rising above the lunar surface, Entertainment and Showbiz
"The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, located at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, is taking analog data from original recorders used to store on tape and 1,500 of the original tapes, converting the data into digital form, and reconstructing the images."
Revised Wikipedia entry on Lunar Orbiter
"In 2007, the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) began a process to convert the Lunar Orbiter Images directly from the original analog video recordings of the spacecraft data to digital image format, a change which provided vastly improved resolution over the original images released in the 1960s. The first of these restored images were released in late 2008."
This video features a press Conference held at NASA Ames Research Center on 13 November 2008 where our first recovered Lunar Orbiter image was unveiled and discussed.
The Moon View, editorial, New York Times
"Last week, NASA released a newly restored image of a younger Earth. It was taken from Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966, the first of several orbiters that helped gather data for the first moon landing in 1969. The photograph shows Earth just cresting the Moon's curving horizon, the first picture of our planet framed by the surface of the Moon.
When the photograph was published, in 1966, it looked like a newsprint version of a high-contrast snapshot from space, a stark scattering of whites and blacks. The data from the lunar orbiter was stored on old analog tape drives. Now, imaging experts at NASA have digitized those drives -- mining data that could not be recovered when they were first made -- and produced a high-resolution version of that historic photograph.
The rough surface of the moon no longer looks starkly black and white. It has been rendered instead in a broad palette of grays, which give the moonscape a dimensional presence it never had in the photograph that first appeared. The cloud patterns that hide the surface of Earth, a crescent earth, are much more subtle.
What is most evocative is the awareness that this is our planet in 1966, which feels like a very long time ago. A train of thought immediately presents itself. If scientists can recover extensive new information from old electronic data, shouldn't there be some way to peer beneath those clouds, back in time, and see how this planet looked when it had only half its current population?
It is probably not possible to say that one Earth is ever more innocent than another. And yet there is a feeling of innocence hanging over that beclouded planet, which was just about to get the first glimpse of itself from the Moon."
The Earth As First Seen From The Moon, Editorial Photographer
"When I was young and the first photographs from our space missions began to appear, I was fasinated by their mystery and grace. Science fiction was one of my passions then. When the Whole Earth Catalog began to publish the used this imagery to capture out attention and it is really our generation that had been the first to witness such sights."
"Later, clearer images would continue to inspire mankind, bringing back more and more images of Earth from space, but this is the one which captures the very second humanity gazed down on itself for the first time. And the image, showing the start of man's achievements in space, was followed less than a fortnight later by a vision of man's dreams for the future - when the first episode of Star Trek aired on September 8."
This is why I get a kick out of archiving!, Serendipityoucity
"These lunar images and the later great blue ball images sparked a whole new way for us to see ourselves, to think of a borderless world, to imagine ourselves in space, to think about transboudary environmental issues, and most importantly reminded us that we are all in this together."
Stuff on the Web: NASA goes back to the future, 4P Photoblog
"That NASA is restoring these images makes a lot of sense to me. They should contain quite a bit of information that will be crucial to the current Lunar program. The quality of the images though looks to be astonishing, and is a credit to the original designers of the Lunar Orbiters."
Endeavour Update; Low Power Plan For Spirit, Astronomy Weather Blog, AccuWeather.com
"I have a profound interest in photography, so when I read about how NASA had restored a 42-year old image, I had to share the story! There is a great picture that was taken by the Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966 that depicts Earth rising above the lunar surface. Modern digital technology has allowed NASA to produce the image at much higher resolutions. In the 1960s, limited technology of the day prevented the full, true resolution of the images from being available as they were captured on large magnetic types and transferred to photographic film."
"Explanation: Pictured above is the first image ever taken of the Earth from the Moon. The image was taken in 1966 by Lunar Orbiter 1 and heralded by then-journalists as the Image of the Century. It was taken about two years before the Apollo 8 crew snapped its more famous color cousin. Recently, modern technology has allowed the recovery of higher resolution images from old data sources such as Lunar Orbiter tapes than ever before. Specifically, recovery of the above image was initiated 20 years ago by Nancy Evans, and completed recently by Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowing who lead the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project. Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project. Images like that above carry more than aesthetic value -- comparison to recent high definition images of the Moon enables investigations into how the Moon has been changing."
Note: The LOIRP segment starts at 2:14
This is the picture of moon's surface taken from lunar orbit by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft's Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) on November 15, 2008. Taken over the polar region of the moon, the picture shows many large and numerous small craters. The bright terrain on the lower left is the rim of 117 km wide Moretus crater. More
"When NASA released this image from their Lunar Orbiter 1 back in 1966, the first photograph ever of the Earth rising above the Moon's surface, it was low resolution but they still amazed the world. This week, they have surprised every space aficionado re-releasing the same image in ultra-high definition. The cool part now is that NASA hasn't used any upscaling or magical infinite zoom-in filter from CSI. Instead, they have created a new technology that uses refurbished analog machines and a new digital process that fully extracts the information stored in the program's old magnetic tapes, something that was impossible to do in the 60s. Click on the image to watch it in its 3673 x 1740 pixel glory."
"This is the picture of moon's surface taken from lunar orbit by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft's Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) on November 15, 2008. Taken over the polar region of the moon, the picture shows many large and numerous small craters. The bright terrain on the lower left is the rim of 117 km wide Moretus crater."
Repaired data drives restoring the Moon, Collectspace
"Still, it took some experimentation to understand how the data was organized and what was on the tape. "It was not unlike the scene from the movie 'Contact' where they think they have a video signal but they are not sure and they sort of monkey with the gear and they plug things in and they say, 'Hey look! That's a video signal'. As they play with it further they suddenly say, 'Oh look, maybe we rotate it that way, flip the contrast,' and they eventually find out they've got a video signal and they're sitting there and playing with it and 'Look, more data!' and that's how it happened," described Cowing."
"In support of the project Odyssey Moon supported the salary of an intern who provided direct support to the project's refurbishment of the original data tape drives. Odyssey Moon has also provided funding to the team to allow specific areas of the publicly released imagery to be enhanced for use in mission planning."
"Anyone who has used a copy machine to make a copy of a copy knows that resolution is lost in the process. The same was true for Lunar Orbiter, though for NASA, which needed quicker access to the data than computers of that day were able to provide, the resulting images would be what they needed to evaluate landing locations for Apollo."
NASA restores 42-yr-old image of Earth rising above the lunar surface, Smash Hits, India
NASA goes back in time, IT Examiner, India
NASA releases digital version of iconic Earth image at Moffett Field, The Salinas Californian
NASA and LOIRP Return to the Moon, 42 Years Later. Recovering Lunar Orbiter Images, EDN
New views of the Moon - November 14, 2008, Nature
"This project is an opportunity to revel in what was done in the past," said Pete Worden, director of Ames Research Center, "and get excited about what we're doing in the future."
"These photos will have some use, said Wingo's partner, Keith Cowing, head of Spaceref Interactive, which runs space-themed Web sites. When NASA launches its next high-tech lunar probe in the spring, the space agency can compare detailed high-resolution images from 1966 to 2009 and see what changes occurred in 43 years, he said. "What this gives you is literally before and after photos," Cowing said. "This is like a time machine."
Rescued Moon Photos Restored to Unprecedented Detail, Universe Today
"Earlier this week we had a story about old data from the Apollo missions that could potentially be lost if an "antique" computer from the 1960's can't be renovated. But now comes good news about more old data which has actually been restored and enhanced to an exceedingly high quality."
New pictures of the moon discovered (video), KGO
"It's maybe the last place you might expect to resurrect history. There is an abandoned McDonalds near Moffett Field, with plenty of floor space for 1,894 video tapes. "We liken it to archeology. Techno-archeology," said Dennis Wingo, an imaging expert."
This video shows a Lunar Orbiter image framelet being retrieved from an original data tape using a restored FR-900 tape drive. Watch the monitor between the two tape drives as portions of the image (negative image) roll across the screen. This activity is part of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) underway at NASA ARC.
Newly restored Lunar Orbiter 1 image. Originally taken on 23 August 1966 and restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center. Center portion containing Earth has undergone a second level of processing to remove frame lines from the image. Larger image. Credit: NASA/LOIRP
Video: Equipment used to restore images.
This graphic shows the actual orientation of Earth at the time the photo was taken. It was possible to match the outlines of north Africa in the newly restored image. Larger image. Credit: NASA/LOIRP
This graphic compares the enhanced resolution of the LOIRP image and the highest resolution image available online at LPI. AT full resolution shadows can be seem between clouds and the Earth's surface at a resolution estimated to be around 1 kilometer per pixel. This image was taken on 23 August 1966 and restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center. Larger image. Credit: NASA/LOIRP
Several years ago the USGS Astrogeology Research Program began a project whereby copies of original Lunar Orbiter photos have been scanned using high resolution scanning devices. This graphic compares the calibration marks from a high resolution USGS scan and an inital image generated by the LOIRP. Larger image. Credit: NASA/USGS/LOIRP
Image below: The FR-900 drives in Nancy Evan's garage - the first time we saw them in February 2007. Copyright Credit: MOONVIEWS.COM. Reproduction prohibited without obtaining prior permission.
More images below
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA will hold a media briefing at 3 p.m. PST on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, to unveil a newly restored historic image from the early days of lunar exploration and discuss the innovative processing technique used to retrieve the image.
The briefing will take place in the Ames Research Center auditorium, Bldg. N-201. NASA officials will be available to discuss the recovery process and the scientific value of the iconic images to the next generation of explorers as NASA plans to return to the moon. A tour of the restoration facility will be offered following the briefing.
Briefing participants are:
- S. Pete Worden, Ames Research Center Director
- Greg Schmidt, Deputy Director, NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Ames
- Dennis Wingo, Image Recovery Project Lead, Huntsville, Ala.
- Charles J. Byrne, Lunar Image Expert, Middletown, N.J.
For news media representatives unable to attend, a roundtable discussion will be held following the briefing. Reporters wanting to participate must call Mike Mewhinney at 650-604-3937 by Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008.
Driving Directions: To reach NASA Ames, take the Moffett Field/NASA Parkway exit off U.S. 101 and drive east on Moffett Boulevard towards the main gate. At the main gate, pull into the small parking lot on your right and enter the Visitor Badge Office to obtain a visitor pass. The auditorium is located directly behind the administration building as you enter the center.
For more information about NASA Ames Research Center, visit:
For information regarding the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) contact:
- NASA SSERVI
- LPI Image Archive
- ARTEMIS - Chandrayaan-1
- GRAIL - Kaguya
- Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
- Lunar Prospector