MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – In the 60’s, lunar orbiters took thousands of pictures from space, but few ever saw the originals.
“They took their pictures on film and they developed them in their own little darkroom and they scanned them like an old wire photo and the signal came back to earth and they showed it on a tv screen, they then took a picture of the tv screen and printed out those pictures and took pictures of the pictures.” Explained Keith Cowing of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project
Needless to say, the quality of the pictures got worse and worse.
The problem, 50 years after they were shot, even though 30,000 pounds of antiquated 2 inch tapes containing the photos were still around, there weren`t any functioning machines to play them on.
But that didn`t stop a few former NASA employees. Failure was not an option. With some tinkering and modifying, a couple of old machines that had been discovered came back to life.
“For the longest time we were the first humans to see this stuff in its full unfettered, raw glory.” said Cowing
And as a result, we get to see the same historic images in way scientists of the 60s only wish they could.