Video: Digital Amnesia (Bregtje van der Haak, VPRO)

"Our memory is dissipating. Hard drives only last five years, a webpage is forever changing and there's no machine left that reads 15-year old floppy disks. Digital data is vulnerable. Yet entire libraries are shredded and lost to budget cuts, because we assume everything can be found online. But is that really true? For the first time in history, we have the technological means to save our entire past, yet it seems to be going up in smoke. Will we suffer from collective amnesia?"

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project is featured starting at 17:15. This segment was filmed in early 2014.

Photos From a Visit to McMoons

Cara McCormick visited McMoons recently. According to her Twitter account (@caramccee) she is an "Independent archivist, specializing in analog sound, video and photograph preservation. Interested in digital storytelling, music and all things history."

More of her photos from the visit are here.

Please Help Preserve This Historic Astronomical Data

Volunteers Needed to Preserve Astronomical History and Promote Discovery

"Digitizing the ~500,000 glass plate images covering the full sky will foster new scientific discoveries for the currently 'hot' field of studying variability of astronomical objects, or time domain astronomy, as we bring to light these long-hidden archives," says Harvard professor Josh Grindlay, the leader of the Digital Access to a Sky Century at Harvard (DASCH) project. The telescope logbooks record vital information associated with a 100-year-long effort to record images of the sky. By transcribing logbook text to put those historical observations in context, volunteers can help to unlock hidden discoveries."

Technoarchaeology and Nimbus Weather Data

NIMBUS: Recovering the Past

Dumpster Diving for Science

"Last month, researchers working out of an abandoned McDonald's restaurant on the grounds of NASA Ames Research Center recovered data collected by NASA's Nimbus II satellite on 23 September 1966. The satellite soared over Earth in a polar orbit every 108 minutes, taking pictures of cloud cover and measuring heat radiated from the planet's surface, and creating a photo mosaic of the globe 43 years ago. The resulting image is the oldest and most detailed from NASA's Earth-observing satellites. It's also the latest success story in what researchers call techno-archaeology: pulling data from archaic storage systems. Once forgotten and largely unreadable with modern equipment, old data tapes are providing researchers with new information on changes in the surfaces of Earth and the moon..."

Nimbus II and Lunar Orbiter 1 Imagery: A New Look at Earth in 1966

"The LOIRP required a lot of what has come to be called "techoarchaeology" that is, going back in time to the original data and recording devices, using modern enhancements. The expertise gained by the LOIRP team eventually caught the attention of the folks at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Data from the Nimbus weather and earth observation satellite - in orbit at the same time as the Lunar Orbiters were circling the Moon - had languished for years in the national archives until John Moses NASA Goddard Space Flight Center had them digitized. Dr. Walt Meir of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, after seeing the work that the LOIRP team had done in potentially identifying the Antarctic sea ice in the Lunar Orbiter 1 Earthrise image, and recognizing the similarity between the raw data of the Nimbus and Lunar Orbiter data, provided a grant to the LOIRP team to process the Nimbus data into a modern format and to correct image artifacts that are common to both types of images. The LOIRP team accomplished this, and rendered the images into the Google Earth format using a variety of internally developed techniques and elements of the NASA Ames developed NASA World Wind Java software development kit."

Techno-archaeology rescues climate data from early satellites, NSDIC

"Starting with the methods developed for the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) at NASA Ames Research Park, a team at NSIDC worked with Dennis Wingo at LOIRP to search NASA archives for the original Nimbus tapes containing raw images and calibrations. Their first goal was to read and reprocess the data at a higher resolution, removing errors resulting from the limits of the original processing."

LOIRP Aids In Finding Google Earth Images from 1966

"After determining that it was highly unlikely that any of the early Nimbus 2" analog tapes still existed we began our work to rectify some of the image artifacts in the Nimbus II HRIR data files. The data that we were working with is remarkably similar to the Lunar Orbiter raw analog data, but this is two generations removed from the raw data, the sync pulses and the calibration data had been removed. This was probably in order to save tape back in the 1960's. The surviving original data today is of fairly poor quality."

Technoarchaeology: Nimbus and LOIRP

First Earthrise Photo Taken 48 Years Ago Today

Keith's note: 48 Years ago today, on 23 August 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 snapped the first photo of Earth as seen from lunar orbit (Larger view). While a remarkable image at the time, the full resolution of the image was never retrieved from the data stored from the mission. In 2008, this earthrise image was restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center. We obtained the original data tapes from the mission (the last surviving set) and restored original FR-900 tape drives to operational condition using both 60s era parts and modern electronics. The following links provide background on the image, its restoration, and reactions to its release.

Here is a comparison of the full image in its original, familiar context (higher res)(print quality). You can download a 1.2 GB version from NASA here. Note: this is a very large file.

- Newly Restored Lunar Orbiter Image of Earth and Moon (Detail)
- How the Photo Was Taken
- House of Representatives Honors Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
- Nimbus II and Lunar Orbiter 1 Imagery: A New Look at Earth in 1966
- Dumpster Diving for Science, Science Magazine
- What Lunar Orbiter 1 Was Seeing on 23 August 1966

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