Apollo fans rejoice! Super-hi-res images coming!

Apollo fans rejoice! Super-hi-res images coming!

Apollo fans rejoice! Super-hi-res images coming!

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 1 2007 9:23 AM

Apollo fans rejoice! Super-hi-res images coming!

Hot on the heels of the remastering of the Apollo movie footage comes the news that every photograph taken above and on the surface of the Moon is being rescanned digitally and made available to the public!

The work is being done at Arizona State University, and is headed up by Mark Robinson, who is, not-so-coincidentally, the Principal Investigator for LROC, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, the workhorse camera on the next NASA lunar probe. Over the next three years he and his team will be scanning in the original lunar photographs at high resolution (some are 1.3 Gb per picture, at 100-200 pixels per film millimeter!) and high contrast. They will be uploaded to a server, where people can then browse the images or download them. The orbiter images show objects as small as 40 or so meters across, better than you can get from any Earth-based telescope (including Hubble).

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Only a few images are available at the moment, but yowza. They're incredible. I tried getting a screen grab of one, but the only way to get it on the blog and allow slow internet connection users to see it meant way too much compression, making it look awful. You just have to go and look.

I can't wait to see more! Of course, the downside means I'll get emails every day from Hoaglandites saying they've found corkscrews and pipe cleaners and Lindsey Lohan's ankle monitor. But that'll be worth it to see these images in spectacular resolution. I've gone through hundreds -- thousands -- of decently hi-res images of the Moon for my first book and for the Moon Hoax debunkings I've done, and after a little while there is a wonderfully serene feeling that washes over you as you realize you're seeing someone's photographic diary of a visit to another world. It's remarkable, and soon these new scans will make it an even easier and better experience for everyone.