posted on Sep, 26 2008 @ 12:23 PM
Zargon's post is exactly true. Only the conspiracy theorists are false. Here is a brief overview of the Lunar Orbiter Data Recovery Project:
This project started in the late 1980's when the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) discovered a cache of the only known remaining set of
Lunar Orbiter tapes in existence stored in a "salt mine." The story there is that there are abandon salt mines that store government records, as
the temperature and humidity are stable. There was some documentation attached indicating what they were and that JPL should be notified as to what
their ultimate fate should be. JPL took possession of them in about 1988 or so, as there was some interest in recovering the data so that the images
could be digitized and made available to the general public as the pictures were then a bulky 2000, 28" x 30" prints. The problem at that point was
that no one knew what technology created the tapes so the format and method was unknown. At the time a private consulting firm became aware of the
project and decided to research the issue with the purpose of proposing a data recovery project. After amassing all the Lunar Orbiter literature
available, it was determined that the Ampex FR900 tape recorder (the first real video tape recorder), was used to create the tapes. More importantly
it was revealed that the data was in an analog format with the video in a format called “Vestigial Sideband Filtered", slow scan TV. This
knowledge set about the search for any source of FR900 tape drives. The search covered NASA sites, Vandenberg’s Pacific Missile Range at Kwajalein,
the CIA and Egland AFB's radar test site in Florida. Ultimately a total of four tape drives were obtained and as far as is known, are the only
remaining drives of their type in the world.
The next problem was to determine if the drives would read a tape without destroying it. After numerous calibrations and experiments on spare tape,
it was determined that it would be safe to try one of the Lunar Orbiter tapes. This was done and the specified video spectrum was obtained which
proved the capabilities of the drive and that the data on the tape was still there. However, in order to obtain the video from the data, a circuit
called the VSB decompressor (or "restorer"), needed to be designed and constructed. This was done and a recognizable sync pulse with video data was
This was all accomplished in about 1992. Since then several proposals to NASA and various private sources failed to produce the money required to
recover this data. So the tape drives were stored in a "chicken coop" (actually it was a garage / barn combination), for the next 15 or so years.
Last year a call was made form the person in the video (who I will only identify as "D" until I can obtain his permission to release his name -
though I don't think this mission is actually a secret), called to ask about the tapes and the tape drives as he had some contacts that might be able
to help. After visiting the "chicken coop" and ascertaining that the tapes were still at JPL's storage facility, he then made arrangements to
transport both to a site in Northern California from the Los Angeles area, which he did. He then assembled a crew of experts in various fields and
located a site to carry out his low budget "proof of concept" which turned out to be a McDonalds, which was located on a military base, that was
closed due to poor attendance after a government cutback. As it turned out, each of the little tables, normally used for enjoying your "Happy
Meal", were excellent workbenches for the various projects associated with bringing the drives back to working condition.
This then is pretty much where it is today. Once five full images are recovered, then the "Proof of Concept" will have been achieved and further
funding may follow.
Someone mentioned that Google might be interested. Well they are, and they have visited the site. (More...)