Almost 40 years ago ..

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Alan Browne, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    Last night, drowsily watching Discovery's "Daily Planet", there was
    mention of a project to digitize photos made of the moon 40 years ago by
    two satellites launched in the 60's prior to (and in preparation for)
    the Apollo missions.

    The satellites orbitted at quite low altitude and phtographed the
    surface on B&W 70mm film. Photos were shot when the sun would create
    fairly good detail (shaddows)

    The film was developed on board the satellite.

    Scanned on the satellite.

    Transmitted to earth using a facsimile like protocol.

    and printed on film again (they showed 35mm strips with a fairly wide
    border area). The detail shown was quite crisp (they zoomed in close to
    the frames).

    These are now being digitized ... in preparation for return to the moon
    missions (unmanned in near term and manned around 2020).


    Further ref:
    Alan Browne, Jun 8, 2005
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  2. Alan Browne

    Peter Chant Guest

    I wonder if they have the tapes of the transmission. If they have not
    degraded then it would be one step nearer the original source.
    Peter Chant, Jun 9, 2005
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  3. Alan Browne

    Bubbabob Guest

    A 40 year old tape that has not degraded would be unusual. NASA and JPL
    have already lost more than half of the image and telemetry data from all
    of their space probes in that period due to oxide shedding, sticking,
    print-through and demagnetization of their tapes.
    Bubbabob, Jun 9, 2005
  4. Alan Browne

    Peter Chant Guest

    I've been through the hell of instrumentation tapes degrading before the
    tapes went through the recorder. Then the seemingly good plan of cleaning
    the gunk off of the capstain with iso-propyl alcohol only to find the
    capstain's 'rubbery' coating went all sticky. Luckily this sorted itself
    out after a week, it had seemed rather expensive.
    Peter Chant, Jun 9, 2005
  5. Alan Browne

    Paul Mitchum Guest

    Similar technologies were used by soviet probes to send back a color
    photo of the surface of Venus. This was in the 80s.

    I remember reading about it not too long ago, but can't find the link...
    Someone was developing software to post-process the fax-like signals
    used to transmit the images, which had been recorded on magnetic tape.
    This of course led to a much higher-rez final image than had been
    previously possible.

    Here's the original:
    Paul Mitchum, Jun 9, 2005
  6. Alan Browne

    Alan Browne Guest

    The clip showed vaults of film, so I suspect that the film was printed
    as the signal was received.

    Analog tapes from 40 years ago would not be in great shape ... but,
    ironically, probably better shape than digital tapes from 40 years ago...

    Alan Browne, Jun 9, 2005
  7. (I'm widening the followups to include, since I don't read
    the 35mm equipment group).

    It is mentioned every so often when computer archiving is mentioned that NASA
    has roomfuls of tapes from the early space era that are becoming unreadable.
    Part of this is the media is well past its lifetime and is decaying. Another
    part of this is the tapes are presumably the old 7-bit tape drives common to
    machines of the era, and there are few working tape drive readers left extant
    (when I started in computers in 1979, the industry had moved to the 9-bit
    drives at 800, 1600, and later 6250bpi). Even if the media were readable, and
    you could find the last 2-3 tape drives in the world to read the tapes, the
    final problem is budget -- it costs quite a lot of money to keep the antiques
    in working order, and Nasa's budget has been chopped quite a bit in the last
    few years.

    Bringing us back to the present, if you want to preserve your pictures for a
    long time, you to plan for ongoing archival and re-archival of your pictures.
    In the digital world, you probably should think about every 5 years or so
    recopying all of your pictures to the newest media when you to get to
    transition states between different media. For the film world, bear in mind
    that inks and dyes also have a finite lifetime, and you need to think about
    scanning in your pictures, and then archiving them like digital. However, that
    being said, most pictures aren't worth the effort to archive long term
    (obviously some are worth saving). How long do you really need to keep the
    5,346th picture of your cat doing something silly?
    Michael Meissner, Jun 10, 2005
  8. As far back as the mid '90s NASA found that they had no drives to read the
    tapes. I know they found engineering drawings for the drives and had
    considered making them, but I have no idea how things turned out.

    Not only would they have have problems making the drives, but they would
    have to interface them to "modern" computers.


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    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Jun 10, 2005
  9. Alan Browne

    Big Bill Guest

    AIUI, NASAwas able to find the drives they needed; they hadn't
    scrapped the drives, but sold them, and they just bought a few back.

    As well, a quick romp with Google shows there are several firms that
    boast of being able to recover such data.
    Big Bill, Jun 10, 2005
  10. Alan Browne

    Father Kodak Guest

    I _believe_ that such firms specialize in obscure data formats and/or
    corrupted data files. However, in NASA's case, the tapes are probably
    physically deteriorating. I forget the exact term, but as tapes age,
    they give off a "vinegary" smell. Up to some point, the tapes are be
    "reconditioned," but after that, the magnetic material no longer
    adheres very well to the underlying film.

    My wife is a librarian and somewhat knowledgeable in archival issues
    for non-book materials, including photos, mag tape (music, TV, and
    data), etc.

    Father Kodak
    Father Kodak, Jun 15, 2005
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