March 2011 Archives

40th Anniversary of Lunar Rover on Moon

What: On April 1, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville will host a 40th anniversary celebration of the first use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the moon. The gala event honors the men and women who designed, tested, built and piloted the original lunar rovers -- many of whom are expected to take part in the celebration. Members of the news media are invited to attend.

Looking Back at 50 Year Old Astrobiology Data

"In the years since Miller's initial experiments, scientists have come to believe that the atmosphere of primitive Earth wasn't made up of the same gases that he used in his initial study. But volcanic eruptions were likely very common during the early history of the planet and these volcanoes could have emitted clouds rich in hydrogen, methane and H2S, which would create conditions similar to Miller's experiments in limited geographic areas. The spark could have been supplied by lightning, which is commonly associated with volcanic clouds." More

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Delivers Treasure Trove Of Data

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) team released Tuesday the final set of data from the mission's exploration phase along with the first measurements from its new life as a science satellite. With this fifth release of data, striking new images and maps have been added to the already comprehensive collection of raw lunar data and high-level products, including mosaic images, that LRO has made possible. The spacecraft's seven instruments delivered more than 192 terabytes of data with an unprecedented level of detail. It would take approximately 41,000 typical DVDs to hold the new LRO data set.

LRO Camera Mosaic: The Far Side of the Moon

Caption: The lunar farside as never seen before! LROC WAC orthographic projection centered at 180 degrees longitude, 0 degrees latitude. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University.

Because the moon is tidally locked (meaning the same side always faces Earth), it was not until 1959 that the farside was first imaged by the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft (hence the Russian names for prominent farside features, such as Mare Moscoviense). And what a surprise - unlike the widespread maria on the nearside, basaltic volcanism was restricted to a relatively few, smaller regions on the farside, and the battered highlands crust dominated. A different world from what we saw from Earth.

Click on image for PDF version of poster

Poster presented at the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference by N. G. Moss, T. M. Harper, M. B. Motta, A. D. Epps

"While some candidate craters were observed that appeared in LROC data but not in Lunar Orbiter data, these were all very near the edge of discernable feature size and are almost certainly explained by various differences between the images (e.g. sun angle or viewing geometry). While our initial search did not find any discernable new cratering, we have shown that data from the original analog Lunar Orbiter tapes, as recovered by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery project, possesses the characteristics necessary to discern new craters at reasonably small sizes. If the entire Lunar Orbiter data set was recovered in this manner it may be possible for future researchers to apply automated methods to detect changes with much better chances of success."

Click on image for PDF version of poster

Poster presented at the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference by A. Epps, M. Sandler

"The goal of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) is to digitize and archive the magnetic tape records generated by the five Lunar Orbiter spacecraft in the mid-1960s. The readout scanners utilized onboard the Lunar Orbiter spacecraft employed a phosphor-covered anode bombarded by an electron beam to focus a spot of light on 70mm film developed onboard the spacecraft. This light was modulated by the density of the image and read by a photomultiplier tube. Each individual pass of this scanning procedure across the 70mm film produced a thin strip of a larger image, referred to as a "framelet". The product of the spacecraft's readout system was a video waveform that was modulated and transmitted to three DSIF stations and recorded onto 2-inch magnetic tape via Ampex FR-900 data recorders. This document discusses the process by which these video signals were converted into digital images."

Click on image for PDF version of poster

A Study of the Value of Original Data Sources for Space Science Data - Poster presented at the 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference by Dennis Wingo and Charles Byrne.

"In 1966-1967 NASA sent five spacecraft to the Moon to map potential landing areas for the Apollo program as well as for the first global map of a planetary body other than the Earth. Lunar Orbiter's I-III were in equatorial orbits with a periselene of ~44km and an aposelene of ~4000 km. Lunar Orbiter's IV-V were in polar orbits at various altitudes for global mapping and follow up on LO-I-II. Using a visible light 70mm film camera, each spacecraft took ~210 medium resolution and ~210 high resolution images. The original Lunar Orbiter analog tapes are in a remarkable state of preservation which has allowed a recovery of the data to the limit of the original film quality on the spacecraft. With modern software and computer methods, along with the preservation of the original data sources can allow future researchers to improve the quality of older data sets to provide new science from old sources. This "technoarcheology" represents a new resource for providing time based comparisons of planetary data."

Figure 1: Lunar Orbiter II sub-frame 2070H2 superimposed on LROC NAC image M116154252LE.

N. G. Moss1 and T. M. Harper2, M. B. Motta3, A. Epps4
1LOIRP Project P.O. Box 375 Moffett Field, CA 94035, Neulynm-at-yahoo.com, 2 LOIRP Project P.O. Box 375 Moffett Field, CA 94035, travis.martin.harper-at-gmail.com. 3 LOIRP Project P.O. Box 375 Moffett Field, CA 94035. Mbmotta-at-yahoo.com., 4Skycorp, Building 596, NASA Ames Research Park, Moffett Field, CA 94035, Austin.epps-at-gmail.com

Submitted to 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

Introduction: In 1966 and 1967 NASA sent five Lunar Orbiters to photograph nearly the full surface of the moon. Each orbiter launched took images of different areas of the moons surface, or very high resolution images corresponding to lower resolution images previously taken. Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) is one of the several projects using these images for research. We are in possession of 1,478 2" original analog tapes from 3 Deep Space Network ground stations. We have taken hundreds of those analog tapes and converted them to digital form; with the majority of them being from Lunar Orbiter II which took images with .8 to 1 meter resolution.

Analysis of Lunar Orbiter Images Recovered From Analog Tape

D. R. Wingo1 and C. J. Byrne2, 1Skycorp Incorporated, P.O. Box 375 Moffett Field, CA, wingod-at-skycorpinc.com, charles.byrne-at-verizon.net

Submitted to 42nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference

Introduction: The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) was founded in 2008 with funding from NASA ESMD to recover Lunar Orbiter images from the original 2" analog magnetic tapes that had been held in protective storage by the National Archives and NASA for 40 years. Of the three central questions that had to be answered for project success, (can the tape drives be brought back to life, are the tapes any good, what is the quality of the data the best available), the final question, whether or not the analog image data on the tapes was superior in quality to the existing film was the ultimate criterion for success.

A Sixth Orbiter Mission?

Source: DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program, NASA TM-3487

[303] Even before Lunar Orbiter V flew, the Office of Space Science and Applications was entertaining the prospect of flying a sixth Orbiter mission. Boeing had nearly enough parts to assemble another spacecraft at an initial cost of about $13 million. A gamma-ray experiment also existed which scientists desired to fly on a sixth Orbiter. Its inclusion would raise the cost of the mission by about $3 million. However, the necessity to relocate personnel on the Lunar Orbiter team to other jobs presented a major problem blocking another mission.1

2011 NASA Lunar Workshops for Educators

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, mission is sponsoring a series of workshops for educators of students in grades 6-12. These workshops will focus on lunar science, exploration and how our understanding of the moon is evolving with the new data from current and recent lunar missions.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has allowed scientists to measure the coldest known place in the solar system, map the surface of the moon in unprecedented detail and accuracy, find evidence of recent lunar geologic activity, characterize the radiation environment around the moon and its potential effects on future lunar explorers and much, much more!

Workshop participants will learn about these and other recent discoveries, reinforce their understanding of lunar science concepts, interact with lunar scientists and engineers, work with real LRO data and learn how to bring these data and information to their students using hands-on activities aligned with local, state and national standards. Laptops are strongly encouraged for those participating in this workshop.

Workshops will take place in the following locations:

-- June 20-24, 2011 -- Herrett Center for Arts and Science, Twin Falls, Idaho
-- June 27-July 1, 2011 -- Hinds Community College, Utica Campus, Utica, Miss.
-- June 27-July 1, 2011 -- McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Concord, N.H.
-- July 25-29, 2011 -- John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.
-- Aug. 1-5, 2011 -- Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.

Applications for three workshops are due April 1, 2011. Applications for other workshops are due at a later date. For more information and to register for the workshops, visit http://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/lwe/index.html. Questions about these workshops should be directed to Andrea.J.Jones@nasa.gov.

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RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon's Resources
Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon's Resources

The Kaguya Lunar Atlas: The Moon in High Resolution
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Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Near Side of the Moon
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The Far Side of the Moon: A Photographic Guide
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The International Atlas of Lunar Exploration
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Voices from the Moon: Apollo Astronauts Describe Their Lunar Experiences

Apollo: Through the Eyes of the Astronauts
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