Stories tagged Dennis Wingo

May
10
2009

Abandoned McDonald's serves restored lunar photos
Abandoned McDonald's serves restored lunar photosCourtesy jervetson

Historic NASA photos recovered from 40 year old data tapes

When NASA archivist, Nancy Evans, was asked what to do with a 10x20x6 ft pile of data tapes weighing 24 tons she was told that they normally would be destroyed.

"Do not destroy those tapes," Evans commanded.

Only copy of moon photo data nearly scrapped

The 70mm tapes held irreplaceable, extremely high-resolution images of the moon taken during the 1960s by NASA's Lunar Orbiters. Altogether, nearly 2,000 frames were photographed by the five missions. An on-board darkroom developed the lunar images and prepared them for transmission back to Earth. The tapes which can only be read by a $330,000 FR-900 Ampex magnetic tape reader, ended up being stored in an abandoned McDonalds.

Team of volunteers does what NASA wouldn't

A team consisted of Nancy Evans, Dennis Wingo, Keith Cowing of NASA Watch and Ken Zim who had experience of repairing video equipment began a task that NASA said would cost 6 million dollars.

Only one person alive knew how to retrieve the data

Twenty years earlier, Nancy Evans had scrounged the only 4 remaining FR-900 tape drives, each 7 feet tall and weighing nearly a ton, and stored them in her garage. None of them worked. Ken Zim was only one person on Earth who could still refurbish these tape units.

They did it in two years

Now, two years later the team is proudly releasing the first of 2000 photos which have twice the resolution and four times the dynamic range of any previously seen. Click on this link to see the famous "Earth rise seen from the Moon".

Learn more about how technological archeology was used to recover historic moon photos from the 60s

The full details of this sage can be found in the links below. I think you will enjoy reading more. I sure did.