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.

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KTVU: Old NASA Tapes Reveal Stunning New Moon Images; Resolution Unparalleled

Old NASA Tapes Reveal Stunning New Moon Images; Resolution Unparalleled
KTVU looked at several images, and the detail and clarity are astonishing. It’s the difference between grainy 35mm film with several generations of degradation, and the 70mm film original.
“Dennis Wingo brought up NASA’s publicly released photo from August 23, 1966, called “Earthrise.” Time Magazine called it the “Photo of the Century” and it is certainly amazing even today. But on the next screen Wingo showed the digitized version from the original tracking station tapes. Zooming in on the first version, Earth looks a bit fuzzy, though you can make out cloud patterns. On the recovered version, you can see fog along the Chilean coast, ice floes near the Antarctic. It is truly astonishing.
“Using these and some other 1966 images, we may be able to help push NASA’s climate data back in time a full decade, which will help with climate change studies,” says Wingo.
On shots of the lunar surface, the first versions show a blurry shadow here, some grayish along the horizon. The digitized recovered image is crisp with the deep black of space hovering over a multi-shaded gray surface, almost as if you were looking out the window of some lunar highrise. You can see rocks the size of an office chair. Sharp shadows and almost a 3D effect.”

Full story and Video at KTVU

NASA Earth Observatory Features Recovered Lunar Orbiter Image

Earthrise 1966, NASA Earth Observatory
“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. Though clouds swirl across the atmosphere, hiding nearly all identifying features on the surface beneath, the western edge of Africa is faintly visible in the upper left. The Earth’s North Pole points toward the top of the image.”

Restored Lunar Orbiter Images Make it to Gizmodo

NASA Scales Up 1966’s Moon Image to Amazing Ultra-High Resolution, Gizmodo
“When NASA released this image from their Lunar Orbiter 1 back in 1966, the first photograph ever of the Earth rising above the Moon’s surface, it was low resolution but they still amazed the world. This week, they have surprised every space aficionado re-releasing the same image in ultra-high definition. The cool part now is that NASA hasn’t used any upscaling or magical infinite zoom-in filter from CSI. Instead, they have created a new technology that uses refurbished analog machines and a new digital process that fully extracts the information stored in the program’s old magnetic tapes, something that was impossible to do in the 60s. Click on the image to watch it in its 3673 x 1740 pixel glory.”

How the Photo Was Taken

This chart from the 1960’s shows the context of the newly restored Lunar Orbiter 1 image. This image was taken on 23 August 1966 and restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center. The orientation of Earth was slightly off and shows a terminator about an hour off from what is actually in the image.Larger image. Credit: NASA/LOIRP

This graphic shows the actual orientation of Earth at the time the photo was taken. It was possible to match the outlines of north Africa in the newly restored image. Larger image. Credit: NASA/LOIRP

Seeing Clouds Shadows On Earth

This graphic compares the enhanced resolution of the LOIRP image and the highest resolution image available online at LPI. AT full resolution shadows can be seem between clouds and the Earth’s surface at a resolution estimated to be around 1 kilometer per pixel. This image was taken on 23 August 1966 and restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center. Larger image. Credit: NASA/LOIRP

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:

Man’s First Look at Earth From the Moon….

Describing the spectacular, historic view above, FLOYD L. THOMPSON, then Director, Langley Research Center, wrote: “At 16:35 GMT on August 23, 1966, the versatile manmade Lunar Orbiter spacecraft responded to a series of commands sent to it from Earth, across a quarter-million miles of space, and made this over-the-shoulder view of its home planet from a vantage point 730 miles above the far side of the Moon.
“At that moment,” Thompson continued, “the Sun was setting along an arc extending from England [on the right] to Antarctica [on the left]. Above that line, the world, with the east coast of the United States at the top, was still bathed in afternoon sunlight. Below, the major portion of the African Continent and the Indian Ocean were shrouded in the darkness of evening. “By this reversal of viewpoint, we here on the…
… and an Oblique View of the Moon Itself
….Earth have been provided a sobering glimpse of the spectacle of our own planet as it will be seen by a few of our generation in their pursuit of the manned exploration of space. We have achieved the ability to contemplate ourselves from afar and thus, in a measure, accomplish the wish expressed by Robert Burns: ‘To see oursels as ithers see us! ”
Also visible in dramatic new perspective in this photograph is the singularly bleak Iunar landscape, its tortured features evidently hammered out by a cosmic bombardment that may have extended over billions of years.
Because the airless, weatherless Moon appears to preserve its surface materials so well, it may serve science as an illuminating record of past events in the solar system. ROBERT JASTROW, Director Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has called the Moon “the Rosetta Stone of the planets.”

Lunar Orbiter Team Reunion

Boeing team members to recount 1966 “picture of the century”, Seattle Times
“On the wall above Ron Kaufman’s desk is a large framed black-and-white photo once labeled “the picture of the century.” Shot on Aug. 23, 1966, some 232,000 miles from Earth, it is the first photo taken of our planet as seen from deep space. It shows the moon in the foreground, and, in the distance, Earth, half-illuminated by the sun. Other photos, such as the famous Apollo 8 color picture taken in 1968 of Earth rising beyond the moon’s horizon, have also been labeled pictures of the century. But there is no denying the importance of that first black-and-white photo, even though it is of considerably lower quality, assembled from 60 separate strips of 35-mm film as it was transmitted back to Earth.”

Wirephoto Released by NASA Showing Lunar Orbiter V Image of Earth

This image (LO_V-5030) of Earth was taken on 8 August 1967 at 09:05:11 GMT by the Lunar Orbiter V spacecraft in orbit around the Moon at an altitude of 5,872.85 km. This image has been described as being the first image ever taken of a “full Earth” from space. This is one of the photos issued by NASA Public Affairs.

NASA Wire Photo: Earthrise As Seen By Lunar Orbiter 1

NASA Caption: “First view of the earth and moon from space. Published in: Spaceflight Revolution: Langley Research Center From Sputnik to Apollo, by James R. Hansen. NASA History Series. NASA SP ; 4308. p ii. Caption: “The picture of the century was this first view of the earth from space. Lunar Orbiter I took the photo on 23 August 1966 on its 16th orbit just before it passed behind the moon. The photo also provided a spectacular dimensional view of the lunar surface.” Larger image