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Moon Space Data Storage NASA Science

Volunteers Recover Lunar Orbiter 1 Photographs 150

Posted by timothy
from the file-systems-are-important dept.
mikael writes "The LA Times is reporting on the efforts of a group of volunteers with funding from NASA to recover high resolution photographs of the Moon taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 in the 1960s. The collection of 2000 images is stored entirely on magnetic tape which can only be read by a $330,000 FR-900 Ampex magnetic tape reader. The team consisted of Nancy Evans, NASA's archivist who ensured that the 20-foot by 10-foot x 6-foot collection of magnetic tapes were never thrown out, Dennis Wingo, Keith Cowing of NASA Watch and Ken Zim who had experience of repairing video equipment. Two weeks ago, the second image, of the Copernicus Crater, was recovered."
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Volunteers Recover Lunar Orbiter 1 Photographs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:24PM (#27552177)

    Due to his work, we discovered additional alien structures on the moon!

  • Would have been much easier to restore if it was on a mile of punched tape. Proprietary hardware sucks!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)

      They filmed aliens dancing on the Whitehouse lawn and posing with Congress, but it was in Betamax and had expired DRM, preventing viewing.

    • Re:Tape (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:04PM (#27552429) Homepage Journal

      I was thinking along the same lines...probably the most future-proof format would be something like a jpeg, encoded into punched cards.

      Even if you don't have a reader, you could use any old optical scanner, and write a (probably somewhat simple, as far as OCR goes) program to convert the images into....well, in this case, another image.

      • by icydog (923695)
        A jpeg encoded onto punched cards? Why not just use a photo?
        • Re:Tape (Score:4, Interesting)

          by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:25PM (#27552559) Homepage Journal

          Because every time you rescan the photo would result in data loss. Scanning-printing-scanning-printing would eventually result in a blurred mess that was unrecognizable as the original pic.

          Scanning the punched cards and recreating the image from them, on the other hand, would give you the exact binary data used to create the photo in the first place.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by careysb (566113)
            Except for "hanging chads".
          • Why not encode it digitally on microfilm then? With a printed negative on the next slide, so we have the best of both worlds.
            That should last longer than punchcards.

            • In theory, yes, it would last longer.

              However, will we have something capable of reading it in 20-50 years?
              Probably.
              But will we have something capable of reading 8 1/2 x 11 paper, which will double as a punch card reader?
              Even more likely.

              Also, microfilm is made of plastic, which melts, deteriorates and becomes cloudy, and many other ways of becoming unreadable.
              Paper, no matter how much it turns yellow, will still be readable if the information on it is holes through the paper.

              • by Schemat1c (464768)

                However, will we have something capable of reading it in 20-50 years?
                Probably.
                But will we have something capable of reading 8 1/2 x 11 paper, which will double as a punch card reader?
                Even more likely.

                Also, microfilm is made of plastic, which melts, deteriorates and becomes cloudy, and many other ways of becoming unreadable.
                Paper, no matter how much it turns yellow, will still be readable if the information on it is holes through the paper.

                Here's an even better paper storage [engadget.com] method that can hold much more data than punch cards.

              • Re:Tape (Score:4, Funny)

                by pcolaman (1208838) on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:31AM (#27553477)

                Paper, no matter how much it turns yellow, will still be readable if the information on it is holes through the paper.

                Unless your dog gets a hold of it.

              • Microscope or a magnifying glass. And if it's unreadable, you still have the analog copy next to it.

                You're forgetting about storage density. With punchcards, even A4 (or letter) sized ones you'd need a stack of them, and that means they can get mixed.

                A4 paper has a surface of 1/16 m^2, assuming one of the holes is 5mm x 5mm, a hole's surface would be 25mm^2.
                1 m^2 = 1000 mm x 1000 mm = 1 000 000 mm ^ 2. So an A4 piece of paper is 62500 mm^2. That means that on an A4 piece of paper you can punch 2500 holes. T

          • by Hes Nikke (237581)

            Because every time you rescan the photo would result in data loss. Scanning-printing-scanning-printing would eventually result in a blurred mess that was unrecognizable as the original pic.

            the same could be said for simply opening and saving the grandparents hypothetical jpeg, as jpegs use a lossy compression algorithm. I wonder which would degrade faster, opening and saving or printing and scanning?

          • Re:Tape (Score:4, Insightful)

            by datapharmer (1099455) on Monday April 13, 2009 @07:27AM (#27555049) Homepage
            unfortunately the way most people save jpegs is lossy too. The TIFF/IT ISO is what most archives use, but the PDF/A ISO actually has man benefits over TIFF including XML metadata which is useful when sorting those 2000 images.
      • Thats a great idea... except paper is going to end up being less reliable then a current digital standard. Take for example Compact Flash or SD cards, they would last a long time and because the standard is open, its going to be trivial to even build one from near scratch ~40 years into the future. Those have the capacity to store just about any high-res image on it and is able to be easily converted to more future-proof media when the time comes. On the other hand, in a crowded warehouse, an unknowing empl
        • Plastic/metal cards? Sure, it might take an assload of time to scan 'em back in, but still. CF/Flash degradation rates may be as low as you say (I don't know), but barring extreme accidents, a steel plate will last a good long time.

          Also, JPEG and the rest are not terribly susceptible to a bit flip, unless it's in the header info and then maybe not even then. It's not a great format for it, though, due to multiple ways of encoding and the data loss therein. Go lossless with PNG, or store it uncompressed to g

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by cbiltcliffe (186293)

          2000 years ago, not much hard copy information was created, but it was written on sheepskin, and the like, most which is still available now.

          800 years ago, much more information was created, and it was written on papyrus, some of which has degraded, but some of which is still available now.

          70 years ago, great amounts of information was created, and it was recorded on newsprint, or those new fangled "phonograph" thingies, many of which have deteriorated or been otherwise destroyed, but some of which are avai

          • Re:Tape (Score:5, Insightful)

            by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:03AM (#27553357) Journal

            All of the data I've created on a computer in the past 20 years is readable by modern machines -- it's on 3.5" floppy. Stored properly, and read on a clean drive (NOT the one which has been sucking up dust for the past six years, otherwise unused), this stuff still works fine.

            I've thrown almost all of of it away, though. That's the part you missed in your synopsis of media history: The human aspect.

            Some of the stuff that I've tossed, I'd like to get back, but it's in a landfill somewhere.

            Some of the sheepskin documents survive; but the unimportant ones (as determined by the people of the day) are mostly gone, having been discarded.

            • I have kept my different home drives for 20 years. Each time i get a new computer I copy them across. Its all now on a shiny new 1T drive. But alas getting some of the old programs to work with emulation does not work as well as I would like. In fact unless i write code to read the things myself, which often requires some reverse engineering of the format, they are dead space on the drive. But hay the old stuff is small.

              But DOSbox works for some important files ;) Apparently I now sux at both UFO and syn
            • by rubycodez (864176)

              you must not have much important data. my "crucial data" of over ten years has grown to just over 1GB, I'm not going to put that on 850 floppies. Why aren't you burning that to archival quality optical disk and keeping live copy on spinning storage?

              • by adolf (21054)

                Why do you care so much more about my data than I do?

                • by rubycodez (864176)

                  been doing that for over 25 years, caring about other people's data, sometimes even more than they do because there comes a time when they want something back. Even for myself, much of my financial data was useless, until I had to deal with immigration (INS) about getting my wife residency here, I had to use some 8 year old archival data and was very glad I had it.

            • by Hatta (162192)

              All of the data I've created on a computer in the past 20 years is readable by modern machines -- it's on 3.5" floppy.

              The only machine I have that still has a 3.5" floppy is my Apple II GS.

              • by adolf (21054)

                I don't have a machine which (natively?) reads 3.5" floppies anymore, but I do have an external 3.5" USB floppy drive hanging on the shelf, which always works fine (largely because it hasn't been sucking up dust for the past decade). *shrug*

            • by Mal-2 (675116)

              Some of the sheepskin documents survive; but the unimportant ones (as determined by the people of the day) are mostly gone, having been discarded.

              Not discarded. Scraped and re-used. It's called a palimpsest [wikipedia.org]. Just like erasing photos from your digital camera when you're on vacation, rather than offloading them to a computer.

              Mal-2

          • by Teun (17872)
            Every time I bought a new system I've converted my old data to the new one, from tapes to floppies, from Winchester drives to tapes and via ZIP disks and CD's eventually all on hard disks.

            When you do it before the old tech goes out to the recycler it is easy.

            In present terms the volume is nothing, the Winchester drives held 2 MB and the tapes were 10-20 MB.

            The biggest problem is proprietary formats of the data, not the carriers.

            • When you do it before the old tech goes out to the recycler it is easy.

              Which works really well, until you have to do a forced upgrade due to hardware failure.

              The biggest problem is proprietary formats of the data, not the carriers.

              Again, which is fine until some content industry goon manages to bribe a bureaucrat and get some law passed that you have to have non-disableable hardware DRM, and you can no longer transfer the files you created yourself to a new machine.

              Don't think it can't happen.....

          • Re:Tape (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Patch86 (1465427) on Monday April 13, 2009 @05:36AM (#27554453)

            Why do you say "most of it is available now"? Do you have any idea how much written information has been lost over the last 5000 years or so of written history?

            We have countless examples of information where we've lost a large part. Take the Epic Cycle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_Cycle [wikipedia.org] . It would appear to be an extremely important work from the Classical period, and the only surviving examples are considered literary milestones. Yet only some 25% of the data has survived to this point.

            75% loss over a few measly millennia is pretty lossy performance.

            • by ijakings (982830)

              "Lossy Performance"?!

              Oh lord, youve attracked the FLAC Loving audiophiles, you can talk to them, just dont mention mp3 and you should be fine.

            • by mikael (484)

              Many old movies are being lost due to film decay [dvdhomevideoeditor.com], many of which are stored only on a single reel made from acetate compounds. Then there are fires in warehouse, museums and the odd tunneling company causing archives to collapse. [reuters.com]

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                People need to start shouting it from the rooftops - hoarding is bad, and when you hoard stuff like old movies you will eventually have an accident and lose it, you asshole.

                These old movies have fallen into the gap between "priceless relics", "remastering to DVD would be profitable" and "plentiful enough that somebody has already copied and distributed it". Whoever has the last surviving copy won't go to the expense to digitise it, won't give it to the public domain, and wants to keep it to satisfy their

                • No, hoarding is good when it comes to information.

                  If enough people do it, we have multiple backups. Might be an absolute bitch to consolidate and recover them, but at least they are there.

                  Save everything. Download everything you can. Burn it..and store it.

                  The more people who do so, the more archives we have. Not so much different, really, than multiple monks copying multiple texts.

                  That, children, is the ultimate reason why lifetime+ copyright is a bad damned idea.

                  The

            • Very often, there's lots of data loss but the records of data loss are also lost. :)
        • by TheLink (130905)
          "Take for example Compact Flash or SD cards, they would last a long time"

          Citation please. I'm not sure that the charge on a flash cell is going to last that many decades.

          AFAIK, the typical data retention spec is only 10 years (some might even be only 5 years!).

          Note: this is not the same as the "write/erase" lifespan.
    • by mbone (558574)

      No, it would not. Punched paper tape dries out and cracks along punches (especially higher order bytes with mostly ones, i.e., lots of holes). After a few years, the tape splits from the cracks and you get a lot of short sections of tape.

      When I was at MIT in the late 1970's, already it was very hard to read Apollo data on punched paper tape, and an undergraduate was hired to feed in the punched paper tape and put it on disk, one 4 to 5 foot section at a time. He also had to determine the value of the byte w

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:45PM (#27552297) Journal

    NASA lost the original tapes of the greatest technological milestone ever, and they were allegedly twice as good as what was available to the press in 1969. Has anybody seen any news on this? It's a crying shame.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:46PM (#27552305) Journal
    It's a pity, and a pattern that runs through a lot of projects. The up-front part of the project is the really exciting, easily "sold" part, so getting it funded and executed goes mostly without incident. The later followup/maintenance phase is also necessary; but is far, far less interesting so getting the necessary money and support is a problem.

    It would be nice if there were way in which commitments to projects could, during the upfront phase, bake in the necessary support for the entire life of the project. Unfortunately, any method of doing that would have potential drawbacks of its own.
  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evets (629327) * on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:47PM (#27552309) Homepage Journal

    $250,000 and 20-some years to rebuild the tape drives to get the images back with twice the dynamic range and none of the grain of the 35mm snaps that were taken of these images originally and what do we get?

    a 35K jpeg.

    hopefully NASA intends to release something a little more high-res.

    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:50PM (#27552331)

      Don't worry. I'm working on a project that will, in 40 years, be able to extrapolate the missing details for the jpeg images, producing ultra-high resolution 3d videos. I will then make those videos available on YouTube.

    • 35mm? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by viridari (1138635) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:07PM (#27552455)
      NASA made extensive use of medium format cameras back then. It's very likely the film from back then carried a higher resolution image than a professional DSLR made today.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by moosesocks (264553)

        NASA are prolific Hasselblad [hasselbladusa.com] users.

        A digital medium-format camera today will be better than a medium-format camera from the 60s (although expensive medium format cameras have always been stunningly good in terms of optics and resolution)

        The DSLR claim might be debatable, given that some modern full-frame DSLRs have incredibly high resolutions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by toby (759)

          You're wrong - but only by about an order of magnitude. A 6x6cm Hasselblad frame records at least 400 megapixel equivalent (according to my tests with medium format frames and drum scanners).

          • 400MP is more than a bit of an exaggeration of reality. I'm a big proponent of medium format films myself but I'm hard pressed to come up with a 120 film that can be expected to resolve at better than 200MP in a 6x6cm square. Just because the drum scanner will scan it at 400MP doesn't mean you're resolving any more detail from the emulsion than you would have at 399MP (let alone 200MP or in most cases 120MP).

            With that said, I can take a grainy consumer grade fast film like Ilford HP5+ (ISO 400) and starti

        • Re:35mm? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Brunellus (875635) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:56PM (#27553023) Homepage
          Resolution isn't the whole story here, either--there's also dynamic range. Black and white film emulsions, properly exposed and processed, have extremely wide dynamic ranges. Big negatives show tones better. (If you want to be blown away, have a look at some of Edward Weston's photographic work, done on 8"x10" view cameras). NASA probably went with Hasselblads as a compromise: they needed something reasonably portable that could give useful dynamic range images, too. I
          • by keeboo (724305)
            Interesting... Some of the Weston's pictures I saw look like as if taken yesterday.
          • Michael Light sifted through thousands of NASA shots (many never published) to produce a coffee table book of Apollo photography, "Full Moon". [abebooks.com] Definitely worth finding a copy if you are interested in Apollo. Many of the shots reproduced are breathtaking; all are beautiful in some way.

          • Bingo. I'm quite sure NASA would be keen on seeing what's in shadow detail, something that film is outstanding at.
    • by jerk (38494) <cherbert@NOspam.gmail.com> on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:12PM (#27552493)

      http://www.moonviews.com/archives/2009/03/newly_restored_picture_of_the.html [moonviews.com]

      And a little bit more background on the LOIRP here: http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-111408a.html [collectspace.com]

      I thought it was funny seeing all the tapes in the kitchen of an old McDonalds, with the tape drive in the lobby.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You can download the full[? 1700x3600px] resolution image from NASA's website:
      http://www.nasa.gov/topics/moonmars/features/LOIRP/loirp-gallery-index.html [nasa.gov]

    • by Kingrames (858416)
      That's amazing.
      To think that each jpeg could be worth $250,000.
      Dude, your porn collection dwarfs the stimulus package.
    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anenome (1250374) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @11:04PM (#27553049)

      Here's a nice hi-res image: http://images.spaceref.com/news/2009/lo2.copernicus.med.jpg [spaceref.com]
      Approx 2160px × 1825px and 700 kb

      And if you're really brave, there's a 2gb scan online!!!
      http://lunarscience.arc.nasa.gov/files/LOVframe162h3.tif [nasa.gov]

      I imagine that might take awhile to load into your browser. I can't imagine pictures being posted online in the gigabyte range... maybe 50 years from now that will be a standard porn format, who knows o_O

  • A classic problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by davebarnes (158106) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:48PM (#27552315) Homepage

    The oil industry has been dealing with this problem for decades.

    We have the data, but there are no readers available.

    The only solution that they have come up with is to re-record onto current technology. And, then, do again in a few years.

    • Re:A classic problem (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:11PM (#27552485) Journal
      I'd be curious to know if(at least for the more valuable data) it would be possible/practical to build a sort of general purpose reader for obsolete media.

      By the time a given medium is obsolete, and reader hardware for it is no longer available, magnetic sensor technology will presumably have advanced considerably from where it was when the medium was originally designed. Thus, it seems like it should be possible to build a magnetic sensor that can detect the magnetic structure of a tape with resolution better than the original purpose built hardware. From that, you'd work in software to duplicate the original read process. This [aes.org] would be an analog of that, with optical reading of a mechanically recorded medium.

      I suspect that such a project would be quite expensive, so they would have to be very interesting data to make it worthwhile.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Goldsmith (561202)

        You can use an atomic force microscope with a magnetic tip to do that, but it's a very slow and tedious process. It's often called magnetic force microscopy.

        It is pretty expensive ~$100k to $1M for an instrument, then you have to pay someone to run it, and the software...

        If you had some good engineers and really had money to spend on development, you could probably get about 10 microns of tape per second, or about 1 meter of tape per day. That's not too bad, actually, compared to what they did.

  • Bad web page code (Score:4, Interesting)

    by evilsofa (947078) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:52PM (#27552341)
    The Copernicus Crater link is the first time I've ever had Firefox 3 resize its window. WTH?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Options -> Content -> Enable JavaScript -> Advanced -> Untick "Move or resize existing windows"
  • I'm impressed as the accidental affect of the pic looking somewhat 3D-ish.

    It must have focused and unfocused areas that mimic how our eyes put things together for us.

    • by SuperGus (678577)
      Perhaps it's simply the camera field of view / bokeh?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Quantos (1327889)
      That's the contrast of the image and depth of field(aperture) setting on the camera. Another factor would be the film stock itself, they like to use super fine grain.
    • Looking at the picture, I'd say it's probably the light and shadow areas, as well as the obvious layers of rocks, which fool our brain into seeing a 3D image where none exists.

      I've seen a similar thing before where it shows a pic of what looks like a bunch of dents lit from above, then asks if that's what it is, or if it's bumps lit from below.

      Kinda neat, and warps your mind in weird and wonderful ways. :)

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      For me the artifacts completely ruin the 3D effect. It's almost plastic but just almost. Actually it's a bit weird to look at.
  • That's 9.375 cords (and not those silly "face cords" [woodheat.org]). Now get off my lawn!
  • by InklingBooks (687623) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:27PM (#27552579)
    This is very interesting. I worked at Eglin AFB from 1966-68, part of that time at a radar site (A-20) that provided radar tracking during the Mercury and Gemini projects. One of our FPS-16 radars would take up the track of a spacecraft from a radar at White Sands and pass it on to one at Cape Kennedy. During reentry into the Atlantic, our track was particularly important because the craft was often so far into reentry that the on-board beacon was difficult to track by the time it appeared over the horizon for Cape Kennedy.

    A few weeks before each mission, NASA would put the upper stage of an Atlas into orbit, so the range could practice by skin tracking it (no beacon transmitter responding). The NASA crew chief told me, with quite a bit of pride, of one such launch, where on the first orbit the radar in Africa, Australia, Hawaii (I believe) and White Sands couldn't pick up that upper stage. The radar at A-20 not only picked it up, it picked it up as it broke over the radar horizon some 1200 miles. out.

    Now to the interesting part. We had an Ampex video recorder (S/N 32) in a back wall in data processing that, as best I can remember, looked precisely like the one they're using to recover that long-ago data. We used it only occasionally to capture radar data during ECM missions. I can't recall it ever being used during a NASA mention though. What mattered then was the digital position data, which with an FPS-16 is extremely accurate.

    That said, it would be interesting if a historical link did exist a USAF radar site used by NASA and the recorder now being used to recover that data.

    There's a more detailed account of recovering this data at:

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/nationworld/v-lite/story/682783.html [thenewstribune.com]

  • Bittorrent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ernesto Alvarez (750678) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:10PM (#27552789) Homepage Journal

    When they're finished, why don't they make a torrent of the data and post it to TPB?
    This data is supposed to be in the public domain, so there should be no reason not to do it, and P2P might turn out to be a good failsafe, in case this happens again with whatever medium they use this time.

    Piracy saved lots of BBC content once, why not try to do it for NASA?

    • Torrents don't guarantee longevity.

      Multiple copies, perhaps.

      Given the server space available on the web, tho, peer sharing is the best way to preserve things.

      Five years ago it wouldn't have been true. It is now.

      Times'changin'

      Storage is getting cheaper by an order of magnitude every couple years, and bandwidth is a close second.

      The best long term strategy for storage of *all* info on the web is the distribtud model.

      SB

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:28PM (#27552883)
    Magnetic tape is magnetic tape. Unless the data was stored using a helical system (a la VCR), which is highly unlikely given it was the '60s, then the only important variables are the number and size of the tracks on the tape. A new device could probably be cobbled together from parts for a hell of a lot less than $330,000. Probably a few hundred max.
    • by carlzum (832868) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @11:46PM (#27553273)
      According to the article, the missing device problem was solved a long time ago:

      One day in the late 1980s, she got a call from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida: "We heard you're looking for FR-900s. We've got three of them. Where do you want us to send them?"

      The trouble was repairing them. This is really a story about the inefficiency of bureaucracies. NASA experts estimated it would cost up to $6 million, but volunteers were able to do it for a fraction of that.

      The project has so far cost $250,000, far less than the $6-million estimate by NASA.

      It probably would cost NASA a lot more because of process and administrative overhead. In this case, a dedicated person refused to give up on the project. So, what other archived information can be opened to the public with so little investment? I suspect that if NASA simply offered up the equipment and media, the data would have been recovered in time.

      • Most expanse is in labor and overhead (we call it 33/67, but for most commercial enterprises it's worse). Second, if volunteers fail and the three existing units couldn't be made to work, there's no real fallout. It was a volunteer project. Now, lets say you _have_ to make it work. You're going to plan for the worst, which means some RE and some fabrication costs. Do you know how expensive it is to fabricate a single part? That's just insane.

        For the most part, it's the inefficiency of commercial enterprise

    • I think you misinterpreted the article. The project didn't cost $330,000. The original machine cost that much when it was new. So far it has abut $250,000 to repair one machine enough to get it to work. You say that could cost hundreds of dollars to replace it with something more modern and you might be right; however, up to this point they didn't know how to replace it because they didn't know exactly how the old machine worked. That $250,000 is about reverse-engineering and machining. Your hundreds
    • by Pontiac (135778)

      Magnetic tape is magnetic tape. Unless the data was stored using a helical system (a la VCR), which is highly unlikely given it was the '60s, then the only important variables are the number and size of the tracks on the tape.

      Actually it is a helical scanning system.. The FR_900's appear to be a close cousin to the Ampex VR series 2" Quad system.. (Quad due to the 4 head helical scanning system)
      2" Quad was released in 1956
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_inch_Quadruplex_videotape

      The quad head has an air driven unit that spun with it's axis parallel to the tape. a vacuum guide held the tape in an arc so it was shaped to fit the path of the heads.. There was little to no tape to head contact so the tape can last a long time with re

    • They are wide band two inch wide helical scan tapes. The specs on those tapes are very impressive even by today's standards. For example we use wide band analog tape in our lab and the specs are not much different. The machines don't cot so much any more only about as much as a new Lexus

      You have to figure those old machines where not built for the lunar mission. NASA didn't have that kind of money. These were US Air force machines.

  • Before there was an industry standard, seismic data used to come in all kinds of tape formats from all kinds of computers. You could not be sure whether it as integer or floating point and which of a dozen kind of floating points, byte orders, and even bit-word lengths. So you'd look for repeated patterns that might indicate scan lengths and scan header packets, then decode the header and packets separately. In the data part you'd look for bits that changed slowly that could indicate the significant part o
  • Why is NASA getting grief here? Vast amounts of data from other organizations are deleted every day without comment. Rather, the space and astronomy communities are eager archivists precisely because the picture in question is a unique snapshot of the Earth and Moon at that moment and time - once deleted, irretrievably lost.

    That budgets often fail to provide for long term maintenance is nothing to be surprised about. The real story here - as usual with NASA - is the strength of the organization's spirite

  • I read TFA but didn't find any reference to Keith doing any actual work. I'm wondering if anyone can shed some light on what he actually did in this process? From my experience all Keith does is play "journalist" and stand around taking pictures on the "projects" he works on. Then he takes credit for just being there as actually "working" on the project. Anyone know? All I've ever seen Keith to do is stand around some then blog about it, maybe occasionally he makes some ad hominem attacks against something/

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