NASA lost the moon footage… 700 boxes just disappeared into thin air.http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/one-giant-blunder-for-mankind-how-nasa-lost-moon-pictures/2006/08/04/1154198328978.html
One giant blunder for mankind: how NASA lost moon pictures
August 5, 2006
THE heart-stopping moments when Neil Armstrong took his first tentative steps onto another world are defining images of the 20th century: grainy, fuzzy, unforgettable.
But just 37 years after Apollo 11, it is feared the magnetic tapes that recorded the first moon walk - beamed to the world via three tracking stations, including Parkes's famous "Dish" - have gone missing at NASA's Goddard Space Centre in Maryland.
A desperate search has begun amid concerns the tapes will disintegrate to dust before they can be found.
It is not widely known that the Apollo 11 television broadcast from the moon was a high-quality transmission, far sharper than the blurry version relayed instantly to the world on that July day in 1969.
Among those battling to unscramble the mystery is John Sarkissian, a CSIRO scientist stationed at Parkes for a decade. "We are working on the assumption they still exist," Mr Sarkissian told the Herald.
"Your guess is a good as mine as to where they are."
Mr Sarkissian began researching the role of Parkes in Apollo 11's mission in 1997, before the movie The Dish was made. However, when he later contacted NASA colleagues to ask about the tapes, they could not be found.
"People may have thought 'we have tapes of the moon walk, we don't need these'," said the scientist who hopes a new, intensive hunt will locate them.
If they can be found, he proposes making digitalised copies to treat the world to a very different view of history.
But the searchers may be running out of time. The only known equipment on which the original analogue tapes can be decoded is at a Goddard centre set to close in October, raising fears that even if they are found before they deteriorate, copying them may be impossible.
"We want the public to see it the way the moon walk was meant to be seen," Mr Sarkissian said.
"There will only ever be one first moon walk."
Originally stored at Goddard, the tapes were moved in 1970 to the US National Archives. No one knows why, but in 1984 about 700 boxes of space flight tapes there were returned to Goddard.
"We have the documents to say they were withdrawn, but no one knows exactly where they went," Mr Sarkissian said.
Many people involved had retired or died.
Also among tapes feared missing are the original recordings of the other five Apollo moon landings. The format used by the original pictures beamed from the moon was not compatible with commercial technology used by television networks. So the images received at Parkes, and at tracking stations near Canberra and in California, were played on screens mounted in front of conventional television cameras.
"The quality of what you saw on TV at home was substantially degraded" in the process, Mr Sarkissian said, creating the ghostly images of Armstrong and Aldrin that strained the eyes of hundreds of millions of people watching around the world.
Even Polaroid photographs of the screen that showed the original images received by Parkes are significantly sharper than what the public saw. While the technique looks primitive today, Mr Sarkissian said it was the best solution that 1969 technology offered.
Among the few who saw the original high-quality broadcast was David Cooke, a Parkes control room engineer in 1969.
"I can still see the screen," Mr Cook, 74, said. "I was amazed, the quality was fairly good."
The only other original copy was sitting 20 minutes from me and we just handed over our copies to the fraudsters to photoshop.http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/news/5809380/curtin-finds-lost-moon-tapes/
Curtin finds 'lost' Moon tapes
The West Australian July 18, 2009, 11:00 am
Curtin University staff have a special reason to remember the 40th anniversary of man's historic Moon landing on Monday.
Emeritus professor of physics John de Laeter said the university had last year found 100 tapes from the Apollo 11 mission that NASA feared had been lost for ever.
A NASA scientist had brought duplicate copies of tapes to Perth in about 1970 and had asked Professor de Laeter to store them at the university so they could be used later.
The big, old-fashioned tapes had recorded information from two experiments and had been forgotten about until the US space agency revealed it had lost the original footage from the Moon landing.
A shortage of tapes in the 1970s and 80s had led to about 200,000 tapes being erased and reused.
"Fortunately, the lab manager had sort of disobeyed orders — he was told to get rid of the tapes, but he put them in the basement under one of our lecture theatres, which is cool and dark," Professor de Laeter said.
"We went down and, sure enough, we found them in very good condition. It is wonderful to see that a local university played a part."
The tapes have been returned to NASA for use in the 40th anniversary celebrations.
Associate Professor Alex Nemchin, from Curtin University's department of applied geology, said the university had accumulated about 30 samples of Moon rock during the past five years.
Researchers had examined chemicals and isotopes from the samples and had found some minerals to be as old as 4.42 billion years.
"With techniques we are developing, in the future we will be able to do more things with the samples," he said.
In New York, a navigational chart used by the Apollo 11 astronauts has become the unexpected star of an auction marking the lunar landing anniversary.
Bonhams New York says the lunar surface star chart sold on Thursday for a staggering $US218,000 ($A270,840). The chart had been expected to bring in between $US70,000 and $US90,000.
The historic landing of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin was on July 20, 1969.
Among the highlights of the 350-item auction were three checklists from the landing's descent.
Signed by Aldrin, the lot had been estimated to fetch $US125,000 to $US175,000 but it failed to sell.