Edit here's a little more information: http://www.moonviews.com/2012/06/lunar-orbiters-classified-h..., and the link from there to http://www.nro.gov/history/csnr/programs/docs/prog-hist-01.p... contains the technical details on the camera I was after. Amazing stuff.
If bowling alleys didn't already exist... and you pitched me the idea of fully automated systems to collect and re-rack pins and return 15-lb balls to the player after each and every throw... I would probably say that's either impossible or at least impractical at scale.
19th and 20th century engineering is amazing. Today, if I can't conceive of writing it as a mobile app than I just shrug.
Skills thrive only if there is an incentive, monetary or otherwise, to practice them. Otherwise they atrophy.
In my past 6 years in Silicon Valley, I worked mostly alongside PhDs in physics, math, comp sci, EE, quantum physics even. This is a metric TON of talent. Do you know what you can do with that kind of talent? You can like literally get a man to moon etc. Every one of these guys ( sadly including myself ) was working on some throwaway nonsense- ETL jobs, frontend js, distributed backend code that got rm -rfed and rewritten periodically, messaging systems replaced every year with messaging systems in latest language fad, all kinds of ultimate software crap manned by the jira monster with never ending tickets & feature requests.
So I just saved up the breadcrumbs & headed back to academia when I couldn’t take it anymore. Better to work on serious stuff, even if it were ill monetized. You only have one life.
I wonder how the cost, reliability, and speed of that would compare to the mechanical solutions. There are a couple bowling alley rerack machine horror stories somewhere on r/talesfromtechsupport.
plus stuffing the pins with IoT sensors and WiFi chips, i.e. making "smart pins", "smart ball", ...
I wonder what stuff what is being done today (both kinds - known to public as well as classified) would look amazing in 2060.
I can't remember where it's from, but there's a story about a firm procuring a shipment of widgets from a factory in Japan, with 5% defect rate. They received the shipment with a separate box with the 5% defect widgets and a confused letter of apology. That was also 20th century engineering.
There is amazing stuff going on, and there is a lot of bland, forgettable stuff going on, and that's the way it's always been.
Polaroid had really high resolution, a mostly dry development process, and was simple enough to be done by anyone.
20th Century Engineering is amazing.
If you're old enough to remember VCRs, consider: VCRs were also fully analog. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videocassette_recorder
The comparison with VCR makes sense.
They might have added some filtering to the signal, but from the photo, that's not the most important artifact that was added.
You get all this “automatically” by using much simpler circuitry doing the equivalent job of your “fine tuned” versions.
Vertical filtering can be implemented in analogue circuitry using line delays (this was done for standards conversion as an alternative to pointing a camera at a screen), but it's a lot harder than taking a photo of a folded-up print-out.
For artificial scan effects like the Earthrise photo, make an acetate overlay before some good old fashioned dark room dodge and burn making the print, and a slightly out of focus enlarger.
But, hey, Silicon Valley is really good at ad tech. :-)
It's mentioned that the deepest layers count time in seconds from the moment that humanity first landed on the moon of its home planet.
It features a galaxy wide group of alien civilizations that communicate by means of a system that greatly resembles Usenet newsgroups.
It either won or was nominated for most of the major science fiction awards.
I've been looking for books with similar ideas for a long time... would you (or anyone else) know any? The ideas in the two books are really amazing.
Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age.
Greg Bear's Moving Mars, Anvil of Stars, and Eon.
John Barnes' A Million Open Doors, and Mother of Storms.
"Founded in 1982 by the major space agencies of the world, the CCSDS is a multi-national forum for the development of communications and data systems standards for spaceflight."
And indeed, the epoch:
"The CCSDS-Recommended epoch is that of 1958 January 1 (TAI) and the recommended
time unit is the second, using TAI as reference time scale, for use as a level 1 time code. This
time code is not UTC-based and leap-second corrections do not apply."
Whenever I read about 50-year-old government secrets being revealed, I wonder about all the things happening today we're not being told about -- that we'll learn about 50 years from today.
Looking at the Earthrise image, as another commenter pointed out, they didn't simply degrade the image, but they deliberately added vertical lines with differing brightness and gain, so it would appear that the film scanners on the Lunar Orbiter could scan only at a very low resolution.
To use an analogy: Suppose you request a secret document from the government under the Freedom of Information Act. They decide to give it to you, but they redact 99% of the material with black markers. Oh, but they also retype the entire document, without the blacked-out portions, so you think you received the whole thing. They even add staples, 3-hole punches, coffee cup stains, and creases to the paper before photocopying it. You get 1% of material, but you are convinced that you got the complete unaltered original.
You walk into a mock hotel room and even knowing the general vicinity of where the camera should be, struggle to find it. I flat out couldn't until a friend who works at the FBI told me - it was in the period on the artists signature of a piece of artwork in the room. A literal pinhole camera recording everything in the room more than 3 decades ago with pretty great quality.
I can't even fathom the technology they have today - there's no chance that'd be on the tour.
Commitment to manned space exploration is another.
Messenger pigeons were superseded by better ways of delivering messages, covering all the use cases and then some. With SR-71 and the space program, we've lost capabilities we had before. In the latter space, it's slowly getting fixed thanks to Musk & co., but we're still behind the 1970s, capability-wise.
We're also drowning in information.
Everyone has known for decades about the test planes that can partially leave the atmosphere. They aren't economically viable and have few military applications that can't be done more cheaply already. i.e. stagnation.
Last man on the moon was in the early 1970s.
If you're saying that some people believe in crazy grand conspiracies, well of course some people do.
If you're saying that the government does not withhold information and doesn't manipulate or massage the information given out, then the link above doesn't support that point at all. People had to fight to get those grainy Pentagon videos from outdoor cameras mounted in a public place. Although some bits were leaked, the government didn't formally release them for 5 years!
And there is an enormous mass of data and documents that they still haven't released. It doesn't mean that there is any kind of conspiracy -- it could be the usual incompetence/bureaucracy/laziness, but some of it could be due to covering up capabilities or technologies like with those cameras on the Lunar Orbiters.
Absolutely incredible! The level of complexity involved involved in space flight, along with the tight tolerances, continually impresses me when I consider the relative success of these missions.
Are there any details of this? Some of the documents imply it's simply FM modulated, no different from passing a tightly-focused B&W TV camera over the film.
Quoted from Dennis Wingo, co-founder of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, who has been commenting on the linked article.
In the same article, vestigal sideband is reported as used around that time for modems:
Contrast: lossy analog compression, e.g. colour TV.
Heard that the guys who worked on this stuff in there were super crochety. I went over there once to check out some old aerospace equipment they had hanging out in the back (I think it was some decrepit rocket engine), and they gave me a classic 'you kids get off my lawn speech' - until they found out that the friend I went with had a PhD in aeronotical engineering. They lightened up after that and we had a great conversation after that. What a wacky group.
Full disclosure: it's slow and there's no progress feedback.
GNU Wget is a free utility for non-interactive download of files from the Web. It supports HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP protocols, as well as retrieval through HTTP proxies.
convert -size 19992x16500 -depth 16 gray:FRAME_1005_H1.IMG out.png
The dimensions are specified in the .LBL files in the same directory, right at the end of the file.
To understand the .img files format refer to the corresponding .lbl file e.g.
OBJECT = IMAGE
LINES = 16500
LINE_SAMPLES = 19992
SAMPLE_TYPE = LSB_UNSIGNED_INTEGER
SAMPLE_BITS = 16
END_OBJECT = IMAGE
Instead, the same in cca 100 KB:
To get some idea of how detailed it is, here's the crop of the 6 MB PNG version:
Take a look at the top bar. The actual resolution (one small piece cropped from the full resolution) is:
That's how astoundingly amazing the actual resolution is. You can see the grain of the film and the sharpness of the reference patterns. Note, that's the technology used in the spy satellites even more than 50 years ago, all without microprocessors which didn't exist!
Comparing with that, the actual shot of the moon surface is, at least in this sample, much less detailed than what the film was able to capture, the scanner to scan, the transmission circuits to transmit and the tape to store:
The black dot is maybe a piece of cosmic rays passing through the film.
And if you are just interested in the general look of the moon surface, try first:
Short bit about the film. (cia.gov)
I’m curious if anyone realized the government may be hiding their true capabilities.
I didn't realize there were such a thing as an abandoned McDonalds.
That's no moon!
This blog is what it says on the tin (pizza box?):
It states they used 70mm film which according to google is used for motion pictures, I assume a custom camera?
(A fascinating wiki hole - you may be gone some time) :)
The size of the frame is the same, but 70mm film is wider because it has sprocket holes that 120 format film lacks.
I would imagine that for the Lunar Orbiter probes they did use a custom camera, and didn't just bolt on an off the shelf camera.
You can't use liquid lubricants in space, so they had to use solid lubrication or none at all.
Also, as film gets wound through the camera, it generates static electricity. Usually, this gets wicked away by the atmosphere. However, there is no atmosphere in space, so they had to have a special metal plate to dissipate the built up electrical charge.
The film itself was normal photographic film, although a special emulsion made specifically for NASA.
Weirdly enough they used color slide film for the Moon missions. I never understood why. Color slide film has much less dynamic range compared to color negative film (5-6 stops vs. 12-14 stops, depending on the specific films) and it is much more difficult to expose for correctly (in fact, most pictures taken on the Moon are severely under/overexposed). One explanations I heard was that there was no color reference on the moon, so they didn't know how to print from negative film, but that doesn't make any sense to me. The Moon is very gray, and they could have taken a color chart with them...
It was standard acetate film with a gelatin emulsion.
Aside from the special Ektachrome, they also took black and white film magazines with them. The colour slide magazines held 160 exposures and the black and white magazines held 200 exposures.
I believe the reason they used slide film was that the quality of colour negative film wasn't so good back in the 60's. A lot of the shots they took on the moon were bracketed for exposure, so they took 3 images of the same subject, but with different exposures.
On the note of Apollo mission photography, there is an archive of a huge amount of photos taken on the Apollo missions on Flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/projectapolloarchive/albums
Otherwise, a film camera would work the same in vacuum, even if it had some electric components.
For the film itself, I don't think you need anything special, there is nothing on the material that would boil off under vacuum to my knowledge.
The difficult parts are really heat because unlike in air, any heat you gain is difficult to get rid off again since there is no air to transport it away. So if you do have some electrics in your camera they can easily overheat if not designed for vacuum operation.
> Vacuum cementing or vacuum welding is the natural process of solidifying small objects in a hard vacuum. ...
> This effect was reported to be a problem with the first American and Soviet satellites, as small moving parts would seize together. ...
> In 2009 the European Space Agency published a peer-reviewed paper detailing why cold welding is a significant issue that spacecraft designers need to carefully consider.
Regarding specifically plastic, which might be used for the film, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrosion_in_space : "Many plastics are considerably sensitive to atomic oxygen and ionizing radiation."
That link also points out the "material fatigue caused by cyclical heating and cooling and associated thermal expansion mechanical stresses."
Also in the early 90's saw a price list for (3M's) two part silicone products. One product was $25,000 a gallon. Application was for space craft windows. Turns out regular silicon will out gas and fog windows under hard vacuum.
All the above has lead me to have a lot of respect for the engineers that made this stuff work. Ditto because every time I've had a materials problem it's been a trail of tears.
But with Apollo they could take the film back and develop it normally. The orbiters developed film in space and then scanned it. I tried looking and found nothing, but the orbiter camera's developed film using a semi-dry processed using damp ribbons that seem similar to a old typewriter ribbon.
Of course, Hasselblad didn't put that in their marketing material. Nasa then moved to using Nikon cameras around the Spacelab era, and still uses Nikons to this day.
Maybe this analogue picture compression is something which is still usable and valuable in long distance space transmission?
Now we have digital protocols which are still sent on top of analogue signals (everything is analogue down at the bottom, even your CPU). We lose a tiny bit of dynamic range through compression in some circumstances but gain error correction, speed and the ability to recover signals from below the noise floor which means less power and more distance for the same power.
So no, digital is definitely the way.
As an amateur radio operator, some of us at least tend to play with very low powers. You can have a two way conversation 3000km+ with no more more than a watt but only if you use digital modes. One reason why Morse/CW is still popular; it’s a digital encoding.
> Recent advances in digital signal processing have allowed EME contacts, admittedly with low data rate, to take place with powers in the order of 100 Watts and a single Yagi antenna.
Also of interest, we see 0.5-4 mbit/s to Mars with the MRO:
So it would take a few hours but one could transfer one of those images to/from Mars using tech that's been deployed for 13 years.
Millions of people are watching the football via a satellite with a 80Mbit/sec DVB-S2 link from low earth orbit with consumer hardware. The system uses forward error correction to cover loss.
The main limiting factor of digital cameras is producing really big sensors, but if you want to photograph a stationary object like the moon it can be done readily by stitching lots of small images together.
People are currently getting excited about the picture quality of 4k and beyond. The old cinema film is, as I understand it, roughly equivalent of about 12k digital cinema. The way the work is quite different so it's not directly comparable.
Also, I don't quite understand why ISO 40 would make anything difficult. I regularly shoot at ISO 50 on digital.
Have you come across the Leica M-Monochrom? When I first heard of it I thought it was odd, but understanding how the sensor work I can see what an advantage it could be for B+W photography.
https://uk.leica-camera.com/Photography/Leica-M/LEICA-M-MONO... and https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/leica-m-monochrom for more details.
Ok I really need to go find that article...
Put the input and the output of a Schmidt on an oscilloscope some time and tune across an HF band for weak digital (RTTY) signals. Then try adding crap to the input.
They'll pull perfect (digital, lossless) copy so far down in the (analog) noise that it can barely be heard. I'm sure there's better stuff these days (been a while).
And one can only wonder if the hundreds of billions sunk into programs like the F35 or the European A400M program haven't simply been used to fund skunk works projects instead.
Also that 200pixel/line scanner... Awesome. Basically a fax machine in space.
There are more videos on the same YouTube channel.
Wasn’t the technology behind the Corona satellites based on this tech? I wonder if the declassified pictures they release are the lower quality versions?
Nice to be able to use 'earthly' in a non-mystical sense!
By the title, I was expecting an article about the first photos of the moon.
What does this mean? Analog is inherently lossy to begin with.
A digital signal is inherently lossy as it takes only finite number of values because digital is discrete (0 and 1), whereas analog is continuous and in theory it can encode an infinite number of values, subject to your codec apparatuses limits.
Basically, the sampling theorem is a hella fun topic. There was a very good video that served as a fun primer on this from a few years ago, if you want me to look it up.
And in fact analog modulation can precisely encode the source signal; consider how music or voice was sent uncompressed over radio/through the phone.
Watch it a couple of times, I strongly encourage this.