The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project based at NASA Ames Research Center is a sort of archeology of the digital age, or “techno-archeology” as the team calls it. They have 1,478 tape canisters from NASA’s unmanned Lunar Orbiter moon missions in 1966 and 1967. The images were used to map NASA’s 1969 moon landing but were set to be destroyed when LOIRP lead Dennis Wingo and his partners rescued them in 2007. There are 48,000 pounds of film — the entire moon in 900 billboard size photos taken by the unmanned Lunar Orbiter spacecraft. Acting as something akin to a mini-Fotomat and TV station, the orbiter took Polaroid-like photos of the moon, scanned them and beamed them back to one of three stations on Earth where they were recoded on film.

Not only did the team figure out how to get the images off the film, it turned out that the 1966 images of the moon’s surface, once digitally remastered, were of exceptional quality, comparable to NASA’s most recent images of the moon.

Now the LOIRP team has just released newly reprocessed images! You can view and download the images at, the official website of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP).

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff

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