The lost NASA tapes: Restoring lunar images after 40 years in the vault

A Mac Pro and 40-year-old tape drives are helping restore the original Lunar Orbiter tapes

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Other tapes

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Karen Person, head of the Renaissance Entertainment & Media Group, is not waiting for Nafzger's results. She says she has acquired one of the original 2-in. NASA recordings of the broadcast video and is using it as the basis of a documentary titled July Moon, which she hopes to have in theaters for the 40th anniversary of the moon landing on July 20. The video has been transferred to MPEG-4 format and parts have been enhanced, she says.

"They are about 200% clearer than anything you would have seen, and Walter Cronkite is not talking over them," she says. In fact, she showed clips to Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and, according to her, he said he saw things that he had not previously remembered.

She claims she procured the tapes -- for an amount she would not disclose -- from a man who bought them at a government surplus property auction in 1976 while he was a NASA engineering intern. He reportedly paid $217.77 for a batch of 1,150 assorted tapes.

For his part, Wingo has received a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to locate early Nimbus weather satellite tapes. Data from the satellites, first launched in 1964, was stored on tapes like those used with the Lunar Orbiters.

"Those images would push our knowledge of Arctic and Antarctic ice packs 14 years further into the past," he says.

Lamont Wood is a freelance writer in San Antonio. He can be reached at lwood@texas.net .

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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