Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) Status 14 February 2014

Dennis Wingo Status, end of day, February 14, 2014
Sorry, still procrastinating on the list. Will do after the tapes are done on what looks like Tuesday.
We have made it today through tape M1-048.
This means that we are more than half way through the last ground station for lunar orbiter 1, which will mark the end of our primary capture mission.
We have 45 tapes to go…..

Space Artist Don Davis Re-imagines Lunar Orbiter IV Earthrise

Don Davis via Facebook: “A Lunar Orbiter photo given new life by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP). This was taken by the Lunar Orbiter IV large format film camera’s wide angle lens (in black and white) on May 19, 1967. The digitally recovered photo data is significantly better than previously available material. I have done a quick colorization and minor cleanup of this image.”
Click on image to enlarge.
See: Another Lunar Orbiter Earthrise Retrieved and Enhanced for more information on the recent recovery and enhancement of this image.

Research Data Disappears Fast

Scientists losing data at a rapid rate, Nature
“In their parents’ attic, in boxes in the garage, or stored on now-defunct floppy disks — these are just some of the inaccessible places in which scientists have admitted to keeping their old research data. Such practices mean that data are being lost to science at a rapid rate, a study has now found. “Most of the time, researchers said ‘it’s probably in this or that location’, such as their parents’ attic, or on a zip drive for which they haven’t seen the hardware in 15 years” …. “In theory, the data still exist, but the time and effort required by the researcher to get them to you is prohibitive.”

Misplaced High Resolution Lunar Orbiter V Imagery Found After 46 Years

High resolution imagery from the Lunar Orbiter program, forgotten for 46 years, has been retrieved from original data tapes.
The five Lunar Orbiter missions, flown between 1966 and 1967, were rather heavily documented. This extensive documentation has helped us at the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) to locate images on the original analog data tapes and retrieve them at a resolution that was impossible in the 1960s.
While the Lunar Orbiter program was methodical in documenting everything, every now and then imagery slipped through the crack. Often times the misplaced images are unremarkable and incomplete. However, in this case, we have found complete high resolution imagery of a location close to the Apollo 15 landing site at Hadley Rille. The imagery we have uncovered is number 5105 taken by Lunar Orbiter V in 1967.
If you check the authoritative LPI Lunar Orbiter image database you will see that only a medium resolution version of image 5105 is online. Similarly the equally authoritative USGS only has this medium resolution image as well. High resolution images of 5105 are not online and do not appear in project documentation – except for databases that show all images that were sent back to Earth.
As such, it is safe to assume that no one has seen this high resolution imagery for over 46 years. Given that this imagery is absent from Lunar Orbiter image databases, it is probable that only a few people ever saw this imagery back when it was first received on Earth.
The medium resolution image was taken on 14 August 1967 at 12:41:02.83 UTC. The high resolution imagery was taken just before the medium resolution image at 12:41:02.71 UTC. Both images were taken from an altitude of 131.5 miles. The resolution of the raw imagery is 2.2 meters/pixel.
As you can see from the medium resolution image, the high resolution imagery was taken a short distance away from where the Apollo 15 astronauts conducted their lunar surface traverses in the summer of 1971 – almost exactly 4 years after this imagery was obtained.
Click on image to enlarge: note we will post the raw files at NLSI once the government shutdown is over and their servers come back online.

3 September 2008 LOIRP Status

Dennis Wingo: Progress has been good since the last report. We have obtained audio from tapes from all of the ground stations, from Woomera, Goldstone, Madrid, as well as from NASA Langely where some of the tapes were re-recorded, which brings up and issue to discuss in a minute. What we have proven in playing audio and video data from these random tapes is that we can conclusively state that one of the two questions that were paramount at the beginning of the project (are the tapes any good), can be conclusively answered affirmative. Audio clips will be put on the net with a link. I think that they will fit in this email without overcoming anyone’s mail box. You already have the Woomera tape.
— This audio excerpt is from a tape being recorded at Goldstone wherein the tech talks about “seeing some sky” i.e. deep space above the moon’s horizon
— This audio excerpt from a data tape has features a technican with a spanish accent recording identifiying information on a tape being downlinked in Madrid.
We continue to find small problems with the drive. Most of them now is because the pins on the back of one of the connectors has many broken coax wires and it is taking a while to track down but we almost have a fully locked up video signal that we have recorded on a new test tape that Ken brought in. We are still looking for information and this past week we received many aperture cards, some of them with procedures on them that we are applying to align the electronics and mechanics of the drive.
Also, since we know that we are going to have the money soon for the head refurbishment, I have delayed some expenditures to expedite the head refurbishment. We have sent a large check and two heads (they have three heads now) to VMI to get them started with the refurbishment process and they are getting started.
We expect to receive by the end of the week, refurbished pinch rollers that are critical to the tape moving at the proper speed through the tape transport system. This week we sent a sample of the belts for the motors to a company in New Jersey and they are going to be able to make brand new belts for the reel motors and the capstan drive motors. It will take them about 6 weeks to provide us with new belts but the cost is fairly modest, about $1k for all the belts that we need, made from scratch, along with plenty of spare belts. That is the good news. However, not all news in this area is good.
A couple of weeks ago we sent the capstan motors and the reel motors from the two parts donor drives to get the bearings replaced. We have received their estimate of the costs. It is going to cost about $30k to get the primary and secondary drive motors completely refurbished. Ouch. This is not completely unexpected as the bearings are not the typical ones you buy at Auto Zone for a V-8 engine. They are bearing with the highest quality classifications in the books. They require being dunked in liquid nitrogen to remove or install, a rubber mallet just won’t do. So, we are holding off in this area for now though we will pay the $3k needed just to order the bearings that we need so that if we go forward to full production, we won’t loose any schedule there.
We are growing very concerned now on the schedule for the demodulator and are monitoring the progress there. We are also looking at our alternative for software demodulation or other hardware solutions. We are still investigating whether or not the demodulator on the drive is one that we can use. Still not sure and are still investigating. It will take us fixing a couple of final problems with the electronics before we know for sure.
One thing that we found this past week is a tape from Langley that is of the famous shot of the Earth from the Moon. This tape looks like it may have been demodulated prior to writing back out to the tape. We are writing the software now in Labview to record this data and put it back together and see if it is that image. If it is, and if the tape is demodulated already, we will know for sure whether or not the tape drive is fully functional for an entire hour of playback, which is different than a few minutes of audio. If we can do this, then we will have met our next major milestone of proving that the drive can be refurbished to the point of reliably playing a tape back.
The demodulator is external to the drive (assuming for a second that the on board demodulator is not the right one) and so we will be able to show that the drive is fully operational. The system, which is the tapes, the drive, the demodulator, the software, and the computer is in progress and we will at least put to bed the continuing issue of exactly what the bandwidth of the original signal from the spacecraft was.
We are also trying to contact Lee Scherer, who was the Lunar Orbiter program manager for NASA and the former center director of Dryden and KSC. We are trying to track down some Boeing people who were working on the ground support equipment at that time to ask some questions.
Audio and pictures attached.