Lost Lunar Photos Recovered
A team of hackers called The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has been working since 2007 to recover analog photographs taken by Lunar Orbiters 1-5 between 1966 and 67. They have now completed the project, recovering 2,000 high resolution pictures of the Earth and moon from lunar orbit.
The pictures were originally taken by the five Lunar Orbiter probes and developed on film, then scanned and beamed back to Earth. The data was stored on 1,500 analog tapes. At the time photos were printed from the data, but not in full resolution. The tapes were then sealed, stored, and largely forgotten.
The team of engineers have painstakingly reassembled the tape readers to get the data off the tapes, and reconstructed the 2,000 images, which are much higher resolution than the original printed copies. In fact the image quality often exceeds the resolution and dynamic range of the more recent lunar probes.
The data recovered by these “techno-archaeologists” is now fully archived and they have moved on to other projects. Perhaps one day we can find that lost footage of Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon.