Lost Apollo Data Tapes Found... Nov 2, 2006 7:12:47 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 2, 2006 7:12:47 GMT -6
Lost Moon landing tapes discovered
For years 'lost' tapes recording data from the Apollo 11 Moon landing have been stored underneath the seats of Australian physics students. A recent search has uncovered them.
They were nearly thrown out with the rubbish. But a last minute search instead has scientists in Western Australia dusting off several boxes of 'lost' NASA tapes which record surface conditions on the Moon just after Neil Armstrong stepped into space history on 21 July 1969.
After addressing Earth, the American astronaut set up a package of scientific instruments, including a dust detector designed by an Australian physicist. The data collected by the detector was sent back to ground stations on Earth and recorded on magnetic tapes - copies of which are as rare as the 'misplaced' original video footage of the 1969 touchdown.
Last week, up to 100 tapes, clearly marked "NASA Manned Space Center", turned up after a search in a dusty basement of a physics lecture hall at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia. One of the old tapes has been sent to the American space agency to see whether it can be deciphered and 'stripped' of any important data which may have survived the ravages of time.
The data are a daily record of the environmental conditions and changes taking place at the lunar site after the Eagle landed safely in the Sea of Tranquility. The most important data were collected after the lunar module blasted off the surface later that day, leaving the still-running instrumentation behind.
The re-discovery of the magnetic tapes at Curtin follows NASA's admission in August this year that it no longer knew where to find the original video tapes of the 1969 landing and Armstrong's famous speech to at least 600 million people around the world.
The originals were recorded at three tracking stations - one in the U.S. and two in Australia at Honeysuckle Creek tracking station in the Australian Capital Territory and Parkes radio telescope in central-western New South Wales. Recorded on telemetry tapes, they are said to be the best quality images of the landing (unconverted slow scan TV) yet to be seen by a public still fascinated by the early space race. These tapes were mislaid in the early 1980s on their way to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.
O'Brien decided to go looking for the tapes after reading about mislaid television tapes that NASA and Australian scientists are still looking for.
At first, one box of O'Brien's old tapes was found. Then, a second search last week by de Laeter, O'Brien and a laboratory manager turned up the rest of the boxed tapes just as the searchers were about to give up. The tapes were almost obscured under outdated electronic equipment which the men had to move.
Full story here: www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/818
Glad that the telementary tapes have been located...but it does not mention if the video tapes were amongst them. They are supossed to be much clearer than the ghostly images we have all seen.