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

Carnegie Museum of Art LOIRP Documentary Premiere


2-Minute Film Festival, Carnegie Museum of Art
Join us under the stars as we reveal this year’s finalists-and give you the chance to vote for your favorite! Each year we pick a unique theme and ask filmmakers to submit their finest–and shortest–films to our 2-Minute Film Festival.  To celebrate the interstellar premiere of Extraterrestrial: The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, part of the Hillman Photography Initiative’s Invisible Photograph documentary series, this year’s filmmakers explored the concept of outer space. With so much room for interpretation, we received a wide array of stellar entries from across the country and around the globe, and we can’t wait to share them with you!  
Note: LOIRP Co-lead Keith Cowing will be a guest of the Carnegie Museum of Art as this film featuring the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project is shown in public on 10 July 2014 for the first time.

Earth Before Earth Day

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.

Continue reading “Earth Before Earth Day”

The ‘Other’ Lunar Orbiter 1 Earthrise Image


A newly enhanced image of Earth taken from lunar orbit 47 years ago has been released. The image, taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 in 1966, is the latest in a series of images released by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP).
This image is actually one of a pair of images taken of Earth by Lunar Orbiter 1. Its twin image, taken first, was much more famous and captured the world’s imagination when first released by NASA nearly half a century ago. That “Earthrise” image, as it came to be known, was also the first image re-released by the LOIRP in November 2008.
These two pictures were not included in the original mission plan. Taking these images required that the spacecraft’s attitude in relation to the lunar surface be changed so that the camera’s lenses were pointing away from the Moon. Such maneuvering meant a calculated risk and, coming early in the flight, the unplanned photograph of Earth raised some doubts among Boeing management about the safety of the spacecraft – especially on the very first Lunar Orbiter mission. (see How the Photo Was Taken)


Larger images (various enlargements of 10% of full size image): [medium] [large] [very large] [raw 100% full sized TIFF – approx 1 GB in size – online at NASA soon]
This second earthrise image (Frame 1117) was taken two days after the first image (Frame 1102) on 25 August 1966 at 13:02:05 GMT. As with the earlier earthrise image, you can see a crescent Earth hovering above the limb of the Moon. Most of what you see on the Moon is the farside with the Sea of Tsiolkovsky prominently featured in the medium resolution image. A flaw in the onboard processing of the first image left a large flaw whereas this second image, although it has a similar flaw, is far more uniform in its quality than the first image.
The data chart on the right (larger version) shows time that the two Earth images were taken.
This second earthrise image was taken under circumstances nearly identical to the first earthise image. Indeed the two images look very, very similar. As was the case with virtually all Lunar Orbiter images, this second earthrise always been available to the public albeit in its original, murky, 1966 resolution. But for some reason, this other earthrise never got the same amount of visibility in 1966.
This is not an unusual – the first image was, well, the “first”. This happens a lot. Most people are unaware that Yosemite Valley has a nearby twin, called “Hetch Hetchy”. It is flooded with water nearly a century ago and has served serves as a reservoir, much of its majesty obscured. People used to know about both as equals – but not any more.
The highest resolution versions of Frame 117 previously available are online at the Lunar and Planetary Institute. You can compare Frame 1117 with the earlier Frame 1102 and see that the images are of similar composition.


The first earthrise image, Frame 1102 (top) and the second earthrise Frame 1117 (bottom) show similar composition and viewing angles. larger image Image credit: LOIRP/NASA


As was the case with Frame 1102, comparing the detail of Earth in the newly reprocessed LOIRP Frame 1117 on the left with that of the original image on the right shows a dramatic increase in dynamic range and resolution. Larger image.


This image shows the orientation of Earth as seen from the Moon at the time that Frame 1117 was taken on 25 August 1966 at 13:02:05 GMT.
NASA flew five Lunar Orbiter missions between 1966 and 1967 to do photo reconnaissance of possible landing sites for the upcoming Apollo Moon missions as well as to conduct scientific research on the nature of the lunar surface.
The LOIRP retrieved this image from the original magnetic tape recorded in 1966 using restored 60s era FR-900 tape drives coupled with modern digital image capture and processing techniques.  This process brought out detail that would have been impossible to see in the 1960s.  
The LOIRP’s goal is to recapture the images from all five Lunar Orbiters and to provide the high resolution images for scientists and the public.  All of the imagery and accompanying data will be submitted to the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS) as is the case with all modern NASA missions. The PDS did not exist at the time that the Lunar Orbiter missions were flown.
The primary data capture of all Lunar Orbiter images has been completed. The LOIRP expects to complete these process of retrieving all images and submitting data to the NASA Planetary Data System by the end of 2014.
Support for this project has been provided by NASA, the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, SpaceRef Interactive Inc., SkyCorp Inc., and hundreds of donors via a RocketHub crowd funding campaign last year.
More information on the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project can be found at http://www.moonviews.com
Related links
Another Lunar Orbiter Earthrise Retrieved and Enhanced
How Life Magazine Revealed “Earthrise” in 1966
Nimbus II and Lunar Orbiter 1 Imagery: A New Look at Earth in 1966
LOIRP Releases Recovered Lunar Orbiter V Image of “Full Earth”

The First Earthrise Image Makes a Trip Back To The Moon

On 19 November 2013, the first image ever taken of the Earth rising over the Moon’s surface in 1966 was sent back to the Moon.
This historic image, known as “Earthrise”, was taken on 23 August 1966 by NASA’s Lunar Orbiter 1.  A full resolution electronic data file over 700 Mb in size containing this image was sent to the LADEE spacecraft currently in lunar orbit and then received back on Earth. 
The NASA Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) system being tested during the LADEE mission allowed the image to be sent to and from the Moon in a fraction of the time required to originally send it back to Earth in 1966.
The Earthrise image that was sent to LADEE was a restored and enhanced version created by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) located at the Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, California.  This enhanced image was originally re-released to the public in November 2008.

Continue reading “The First Earthrise Image Makes a Trip Back To The Moon”

First Earthrise Photo Taken 47 Years Ago Today

Keith’s note: 47 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

Lunar Orbiter Earthrise Sighting

“I saw that you had posted some Lunar Orbiter I presentation pieces. I own one of them, but until recently didn’t know much about it. In researching the picture, I learned about the story of the tapes. Here is the one that I received in 1984-85 from a nice lady I worked with at the time. It doesn’t have a plaque, or dedication, but seems framed for an executives office. Her husband worked on the project, and this was in his office. He had passed away, and she brought it to work and gave it to me as a gift. She knew I was a big space flight fan and had just got back from a shuttle launch a couple of months back, and figured I would give it a good home. I wished I would have asked more questions at the time, but I was just so surprised by it. This was in Denver, and we were both working at an Ampex sub-contractor at the time.
The picture currently resides in my editing room in my studio/office. Since it is the anniversary of the photo, I snapped a quick pic of it for my facebook page, and thought I’d drop you a note while I was at it. BTW, I love the story of the LOIRP, since I have a fondness for old gear, and technology. I also like the Colorado connection with the video magnetics guys, we were regular customers back in the day. Keep up the good work. I know everyone is all hyped up on Mars, but as a child of the 60’s, I’m all about the moon.”

Scott Sheriff, Director, SST Digital Media
www.sstdigitalmedia.com

First Earthrise Photo Taken 46 Years Ago Today

Keith’s note: 46 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

What It Is Like To See Images From The Past


Keith’s note: This pic from the film “Contact” is what it was like when we got our first image – “Earthrise” – in 2008. I was watching over the team’s shoulders via iChat from the east coast and the image appeared – in reverse B&W – we saw the ‘white’ of space and the ‘black’ of the Moon. And then we flipped it. Awesome – like using a time machine to grab something from the past. Just like “Contact”.
Below is the scene from “Contact” where a 1936 TV broadcast – sent back to Earth by an alien intelligence as a way to say “message received” – is slowly decoded.

First Earthrise Photo Taken 45 Years Ago Today

Keith’s note: 45 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