Lunar and Planetary Institute
Lunar and Planetary Institute


Digital Archive Casts New Light on Apollo-Era Moon Pictures

August 3, 2007
Source: Arizona State University

Detailed image of the lunar surface.For nearly 40 years, the complete photographic record from the Apollo Moon project sat in a freezer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, almost untouched, until now.

A new digital archive — created through a collaboration between Arizona State University and NASA — is making available on the Internet high-resolution scans of original Apollo flight films. These startling images will be accessible to both researchers and the general public, to browse or download, at

The Moon images filmed by astronauts during NASA’s Apollo program have never been seen in high-resolution detail by the public, or even by most lunar scientists. The new digital scanning project at ASU will use the original Apollo flight films. Previous scanning projects have been limited in scope, and none have used the original films that came back from the Moon.

Mark Robinson, professor of geological sciences in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, is the lead scientist on the project. It's appropriate, as the Moon has long been a focus in his career. In grade school Robinson avidly followed the Apollo missions, and after becoming a scientist, he worked on Clementine, a robotic moon mission in 1994.

Today, Robinson is the principal investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC — a suite of three separate, high-resolution imagers onboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, due for launch in October 2008.

“The scanning project fulfills a long-held wish of mine,” says Robinson. “It'll give everyone a chance to see this unique collection of images with all the clarity they had when taken.”

For more information and background, read the complete story.



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