I was a bit bored yesterday, and so I started watching archive footage of the first moon landings. And I discovered something STARTLING. Luckily, I was recording my thoughts as I watched along.
That didn’t really happen of course. He came back. What you see is just an artefact of tube recording I suspect, but I couldn’t explain the science of it.
NASA can though. In their official report called The Apollo 11 Telemetry Data Recordings. In it they say:
What most people did not realize, however, is that the television footage they viewed was actually inferior to what ground station engineers saw as the raw footage arrived from the moon 250,000 miles away. While the public saw blurry, ghostlike images, the engineers working at NASA’s tracking stations in California and Australia saw clear, crisp video on special television monitors capable of displaying the unconventional video. Although NASA engineers knew that the scan converter would degrade the original picture quality, they viewed it as an engineering trade-off. NASA wanted live television and the only way to provide it at the time was with scan-conversion technology, despite the degradation. In the triumph of the day, no one at the tracking stations considered these differences and certainly the public was unaware. The engineers boxed the one-inch telemetry tapes wound onto 14-inch canister reels-which served no other purpose than to provide backup if the live relay failed-and shipped them to the Goddard Space Flight Center. From there, the tapes were sent to the Washington National Records Center (WRNC) in Suitland, Md. The engineers never saw the back-up telemetry tapes again.
What follows in the report is a round up of what happened to those original tapes.
By all accounts, the epic-like search has not ended as anyone had expected. The searchers never found what they set out to uncover. Aside from a few canisters of Apollo 9 telemetry tapes still stored at the WNRC, the Apollo-era telemetry tapes no longer exist-anywhere.
Go and read the full report, it’s a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.