Last Updated on 04/25/2014 by Chris Gampat
All photos courtesy of LOIRP.
Somewhere in the NASA Ames Base in Silicon Valley is an abandoned now-repurposed McDonald’s. And in this repurposed McDonald’s, now affectionately called McMoon’s, is a team of hacker engineers (or more preferably techno-archaeologists) who are on an earthbound mission to unearth some of the very first images taken of our only natural satellite, the Moon.
These old images were originally taken and recorded onto reels of 70mm film to find suitable landing sites for the Apollo missions and were then stored in a facility in Maryland after they’ve served their purpose. For twenty years, they sat there, vestiges of a golden era, forgotten by time… that is, until the publicly-and-privately funded Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) was launched to digitize these images for the entire world to see.
Replacing cash registers and soda machines with old massive tape drives, Mac workstations, and a pile of tape reels containing pertinent data, this dedicated group has been hard at work on the project since 2007, reverse-engineering an old technology and developing a new software to recover AND digitalize the thousands of photos taken by the five unmanned Lunar Orbiters spacecrafts sent to the moon in the 60s ahead of the manned moon landings.
To date, the team has recovered an impressive 2,000 photos from 1,500 analogue data tapes, all restored and reproduced at never-before-seen high resolution. Check out some of these amazing images after the jump.