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Moon Data Storage Media NASA Space

NASA Releases Restored Apollo 11 Video, But Originals Lost 173

Posted by timothy
from the next-year-comes-the-box-set-of-studio-masters dept.
leetrout writes "I attended a media briefing held by NASA at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. this morning where they released restored video of the Apollo 11 mission. The clips released are about 40% of the total footage to be restored by September by Lowry Digital in Burbank, CA. Wired has all the clips. A couple remarkable comments made during the briefing included the opinion from the original footage search committee that the original slow scan footage (stored as a single track on telemetry tapes) has been lost forever as the tapes were likely recycled by the mid '80s (apparently common NASA practice). Also, that someone from the applied physics laboratory was in Australia converting the slow scan directly to video. This differs from NASA's goal of merely broadcasting the event, at which it was successful. Unfortunately, no one knows where those tapes of approximately two hours of footage are located."
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NASA Releases Restored Apollo 11 Video, But Originals Lost

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  • NASA or the BBC? (Score:5, Informative)

    by davidwr (791652) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:26PM (#28722169) Homepage Journal

    The BBC "recycled" tapes in the '70s and '80s, losing many episodes of well-known programs forever *coughdrwhoandmanyothers*.

  • Re:Pink Floyd (Score:5, Informative)

    by escay (923320) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @03:38PM (#28722389) Journal
    on second thought, let me just google and post a link to the article. http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/one-small-step/2006/08/19/1155408073519.html [smh.com.au]

    ah, times when i wish /. had an Edit Comment option. or something like google's goggles.

  • Re:Tape shortage (Score:3, Informative)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:07PM (#28722739)
    NASA was under some serious budget constraints after Apollo ended, no great follow-ons after the glorious climax, and every nutjob with a pet cause blathering "If we can send a man to the moon, why can't we.....".

    God, we heard that phrase so many times in so many contexts. And every time I heard it, I threw up a little in my mouth.
  • by DavidD_CA (750156) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @04:14PM (#28722817) Homepage

    Unfortunately, no one knows where those tapes of approximately two hours of footage are located.

    Anyone who has seen Contact knows exactly what happened.

  • Re:Incredible (Score:3, Informative)

    by hey! (33014) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:36PM (#28723907) Homepage Journal

    I don't think it is "incredible" in the sense of "impossible to believe". It's all to easy to believe.

    You see the people of the US (as a whole) lost interest in the whole thing once we'd done the Moon once or twice. NASA didn't even have the money to buy mag tapes for the satellite data they were collecting, which anybody with half a brain would see is worthwhile once you'd went through the trouble of putting a satellite up there. Now how many people would understand that cataloging conserving digital media was something that took money? Back in the 80's? The 70s?

    It takes a great deal of effort to turn a book into a palimpsest. So reasoning from what people knew about information storage, the attitude would be that it'd take some effort to lose this data. But overwriting a mag tape is as easy as writing it in the first place.

    This is just the sort of thing that in the late 60s might have overlooked. And then, and then, one of the most powerful of human cognitive bugs does the rest. It is the dog that does not bark in the night. Since anybody could see this sort of thing ought to have been preserved, it is but a short leap to the assumption that somebody must have done it. There are two ways such an oversight can be caught. The first would be that somebody decides they wanted this information and go looking for it. The second is somebody thinks to check that what seems plainly obvious to do had in fact been done. Being something of a fan of the last approach, I can tell you that advocating for it, especially if it costs money, is not something that makes you popular with your boss.

  • by lukpac (66596) on Thursday July 16, 2009 @05:49PM (#28724063) Homepage

    You also need to remember that early recordings tend to get gummy. The way this is fixed is to bake the tape. You then get ONE shot at recovering the data from it, after that the tape is destroyed. I don't know if they needed to bake the masters, the article doesn't say. If they did, though, then there is nothing you can go back to.

    No, that isn't true at all. First off, tapes from 1969 shouldn't need to be baked. It was when formulations changed in the mid '70s that it became a problem. I've heard that tapes from the early '50s usually play without any problems. Second, baking tapes doesn't destroy them. While there are apparently arguments [wikipedia.org] that baking degrades the tape somewhat, some audio engineers have indicated they've baked tapes over and over to no ill effect. It *is* true, however, that baking only buys you so much time before you have to bake again. Not a huge problem, though.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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