Inside TDV - The Data Vault Blog

Digitization Reveals Previously Unseen Lunar Photos


It’s hard to believe that it’s been 45 years since the first manned moon landings, but in the time since we’ve learned much from the information collected during those trips. However, what few people realize is that of all the pictures and images captured during the missions less than 2% have ever been seen outside of scientific circles. One group at the University of Arizona saw this discrepancy and decided to do something about it, preserving the legacy for future generations.

Initially, the group ran into issues of technology and timing. Because the film was taken with was such antiquated equipment, special digitization techniques had to be applied to redevelop the 70mm film reels. Thankfully over the years they negatives had been well preserved by archives staff, but the other issue was the cost of such a project. In recent years government funding for space related programs has been scarce, but through careful maneuvering the group was able to find space in the budget for their relatively low cost project with high public visibility.

As the process continues each negative will be fed through the scanning machine, checked for errors, and then uploaded to a public domain that is open via the internet. With an estimated completion time of three months, the project is not a fast one but can still provide valuable information in addition to public access. “One of the reasons most the images have never been seen is the enormous amount of resources that were required to process the images in the late 1960s.” said Justin Rennilson, one of the team members “the scientific value of this film medium cannot be underestimated, as much still remains to be researched and extracted from the images.”

The benefits of document scanning and digitization for long term archives cannot be emphasized enough. With the increased public access, ease of preservation, and backup in case of disaster, few people can deny the attractiveness of this concept in regards to large collections. Here at The Data Vault we’re passionate about helping people preserve hard copies for the future by embracing the latest technology; if there’s ever a project involving the conversion of historical documents we’d love to help. Head over to our contact us page and one of our experts would love to provide a free consultation on the costs and benefits of such a task!


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