Mike Wargo

Keith’s note: According the NLSI Twitter: “NASA’s chief exploration scientist, Mike Wargo, passed away unexpectedly yesterday. We will miss his leadership and friendship enormously.” I’ll post more information as I receive it. Very sad – Mike was such a nice person and believed in space exploration in a very personal way. He was also a big supporter of the LOIRP.
NASA Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Statement on the Passing of Dr. Michael Wargo
“The Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) on behalf of the broader lunar community wishes to expresses its deep shock and sadness at the news that Dr. Mike Wargo passed away unexpectedly over the weekend of August 3-4, 2013. Mike was the Executive Secretary of LEAG and championed the Moon at NASA HQ.”
Keith’s update: This note is being circulated within and outside of NASA: “With deep sadness, I must tell you that our friend and colleague, Mike Wargo, passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. This news comes as a great shock to us all, and he will be missed terribly. In our grief, let us remember how Mike inspired us with his inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm, his hearty laugh and booming voice, and his dedication to NASA. Mike was HEOMD’s chief exploration scientist, and his contributions to human exploration were many. He represented the directorate on the science teams for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS missions, and most recently, he was a member of the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team. Mike led by example, working closely with colleagues in the lunar, planetary, and Mars science communities, to build collaborative and highly productive projects for both Exploration and Science. Please keep his wife Adele and his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. We will let you know about plans for the funeral and a NASA memorial service once they have been made.”

LOIRP LPSC Poster: Analysis of Lunar Orbiter Images Recovered from Analog Tape

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.”

Stan Lebar has Passed Away

Passing of Stan Lebar, NASA Goddard
“Stan Lebar, who led the Westinghouse Electric Corporation team that developed the lunar camera that brought the televised news images of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the moon to more than 500 million people on earth, died on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2009.”
“During his long and distinguished career, other camera programs he managed for NASA included the Apollo Color TV Cameras, the Skylab series of TV cameras, and the TV cameras for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program (ASTP).”

Buying Lunar Orbiter Tape Drive Parts on eBay

Dennis Wingo: Last night on the Ampex mailing list the following message was posted:
Over on the oldvtrs list, someone pointed out this eBay item: 110459620505
Several of us immediately identified them, not as quad modules, but as VPR-7900 modules. Then another member pointed out that they were the wrong size which caused me to take a closer look. I have just checked the actual machines to be certain, and also checked the manuals and the Ampex part number guide. Now, this has turned into a major mystery. Here’s what I can tell you with absolute certainty:
1) The style of the front panels is like the 7900 series (ground jacks and board function listed at the bottom of each module…they are upside down in the pic), but the module functions, layout and part numbers do not match the 7900 (or 7800) series. They are also the wrong size.
2) The part numbers listed are all in the range of the part numbers used for the quad machines! The part numbers for the 7900 series was entirely different.
The seller seems quite sure that these were from a 2″ quad. The part numbers seem to indicate that could be the case. Anyone have any ideas????? Perhaps something from special products division???? This is extremely curious!!!

I thought this was interesting and since I am always looking for spares for our LOIRP FR-900’s I checked it out on eBay. Here is the page I found.

Larger view
When I looked I was pretty certain that these were boards from our FR-900 machines. It had the right part numbers, so I called Ken Zin at home the night before Thanksgiving and asked him to verify, which he did and noted that these are newer version boards of the ones that we have!! So I bid on them and won them today.
I got this message from Don Norwood later:
Oh my, from the limited info I have, I can see that now! And in fact, they’re not upside down in the pic as that orientation is correct for the FR-900. Wow! I hope you can use them!

So, after winning the boards on Ebay, we are pursuing the boards to get them shipped to us and to see if this fellow has some more. We will try to get the story from him of his dad and how he might have come by these extremely rare boards. In the year and a half of our project, this is the FIRST time that we have found anything related to the FR-900 hardware that did not come from Nancy Evans.

LOIRP In The News

Moon’s South Pole Gets Close-Up in Restored Photos, space.com
“Newly restored photographs of the moon’s dark south pole, taken by lunar orbiters in 1967, were released this week in anticipation of NASA’s planned Thursday launch of two new probes that will investigate the region in search of underground ice.”
More Photos From the Lunar Time Machine, Universe Today
“The LOIRP team is working on digitizing the data, and restoring the images to their full resolution. These images are especially timely, given the upcoming launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, hopefully this week. NASA can compare detailed high-resolution images from 1966 to the present and see what changes occurred in 40-plus years. “What this gives you is literally before and after photos,” Cowing said.”
Lunar Orbiter III-154-H2, Lunar Networks
“In fact, there is a lot of Cold War, personal and science history in this otherwise ordinary-looking shot of apparently unremarkable lunar landscape. The folks at Moonviews have now added their own and very welcome contribution.”
LOIRP recovers Lunar Orbiter IV lunar south pole image from 1967, Lunar Networks
“For the third time in one week Moonviews, the Lunar Orbiter Image Restoration Project (LOIRP) has released another spectacular total restoration taken from multiple passes over magnetic tape retaining data downloaded directly during the U.S. Lunar Orbiter series (1966-1968).”

House of Representatives Honors Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project

Monday, April 27, 2009
Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Madam Speaker, I rise to commend the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project and all those who have contributed their time and effort to ensure that historic images and vital data from the Lunar Orbiter missions of the 1960s are not lost to future generations.
In 1965, Charles Byrne, an engineer with Bellcomm, Inc., had the foresight to propose that NASA record data from the Lunar Orbiter missions onto tape recorders. NASA agreed and the images returned from the Lunar Orbiters were backed up on AMPEX FR-900 tape drives. To date, these images are some of highest resolution images we have of the Moon. Those images include a high-resolution version of “Earthrise,” the first picture of the Earth from the Moon’s vantage point. Time Magazine has called this image “the photo of the century.” The tapes also contain the first stereo imagery of the Moon’s surface. Indeed, these are some of the best images of the Moon ever taken, far superior from those received from the Hubble telescope.

Continue reading “House of Representatives Honors Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project”

Lunar Orbiter in the News 18 November 2008

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.”
Restored for posterity: The historic moment Earth was pictured from space for the first time, Daily Mail
“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.”

Lunar Orbiter in the News 14 November 2008

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.”
Odyssey Moon Collaborates with NASA Funded Team Recovering Never Seen Before Detailed Images of the Moon
“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.”
Restoring the Moon: Lunar Orbiter Images Recovered, space.com
“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

Lunar Orbiter in the News 13 November 2008

NASA unveils lunar image recovery project, CNet
“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.”
NASA swoons over rescued moons; decades-old lunar photos no longer lost in space, AP
“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.”

NASA Unveils 42-Year-old Historic Lunar Image

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: