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  • Original Apollo Images Online
Aug 2007
TEMPE, Ariz., Aug. 1, 2007 -- For the first time, the complete photographic record from NASA's Apollo moon missions is being made available to researchers and the general public via the Internet.

A new digital archive -- created through a collaboration between Arizona State University and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston -- is making high-resolution scans of original Apollo flight films and putting them online.
A photo (resized from the original) created from a high-resolution scanned mapping camera frame made during the Apollo 15 mission in July 1971. In the original image, the resolution is about 21 feet per pixel. (Image courtesy NASA/Arizona State University)
The digital scans, done at a scale of 200 pixels per millimeter, are detailed enough to reveal photographic grain. Created from original flight films, the archive includes photos taken from lunar orbit as well as from the moon's surface. This is the first project to make digital scans of all the original lunar photographs from NASA's Apollo missions.

"This project fulfills a long-held wish of mine. It'll give everyone a chance to see this unique collection of images as clearly as when they were taken," said Mark Robinson, professor of geological sciences in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, who heads ASU's part of the project.

Because the original Apollo images are irreplaceable, NASA made duplicates after each moon mission between 1968 and 1972. These poor quality second-generation copies (and subsequent copies of copies) are what many scientists and the public have seen, while the originals remained in deep-freeze (0 °F) storage at the Johnson Space Center. Even many lunar scientists have not seen the originals, Robinson said.

The Apollo digitizing project takes the original flight films and scans them in high-resolution detail to reveal their subtleties, Robinson said. Because the resulting image files are so large -- 1.3 GB each -- the Web site uses a Flash-based application called Zoomify that lets users load only the portion of an image they are interested in. Images can also be downloaded in several sizes.

The project will take about three years to complete and will scan some 36,000 images. These include about 600 frames in 35 mm, roughly 20,000 Hasselblad 60-mm frames (color, and black and white), more than 10,000 mapping camera frames, and about 4600 panoramic camera frames.

"These photos have great scientific value, despite being taken decades ago," Robinson said. "I think they also give everybody a beautiful look at this small, ancient world next door to us."

The project's first five images are available to view or download at:

Denoting the use of binary notation; i.e., the representation of data by bits (1 or 0).
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