Space exploration enthusiasts have been spoiled this week with a digital repository of some 12,500 images from NASA’s Apollo missions.
The massive collection of Apollo images has been uploaded to Flickr as part of the Project Apollo Archive, a passion project from IT director Kipp Teague.
Captured from Hasselblad cameras (ask a photography buff) which were strapped to the front of the astronauts’ suits, these photos document Apollo missions 7 to 17, including the one that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.
But it’s not all ‘giant leaps for mankind’ and great vistas from above, as the pictorial collection also captures the minutiae of these momentous missions. The preparation, the testing of equipment, the in-between journey floating in orbit, shaving on a spacecraft, lunch in micro-gravity, and sometimes-fuzzy grey photo after grey photo of the moon’s surface – it’s all there to browse through.
You can even see, in unedited form, how achingly close Apollo 13 came to the lunar surface before their mission had to be aborted due to an exploded oxygen tank. Apollo 13 had set a spaceflight record in reaching the far side of the moon, but photos captured from an altitude of about 254km are as close as they came to the surface.
A native of Lynchburg, Virginia, Teague created the Project Apollo Archive in 1999 as part of a personal online retrospective on NASA’s famous Apollo missions during the era of the space race. He collaborated with the NASA-hosted Apollo Lunar Surface Journal on processing images from NASA (chiefly the Johnson Space Center) for publication on the web and, over the years, acquired countless historic photographs from various Apollo missions.
Previously released images from these missions were digitally processed, enhanced and optimised for web uploads, which often resulted in pixelation when viewed on modern high-definition screens. Teague decided to independently reprocess the archive and has now released the images as close to their original form as possible through raw, unprocessed, high-resolution scans at 1,800dpi.
There are already people making use of this vast repository of high-res images, with Imgur user jdreier wasting no time in having a go at colour-correcting the images – based purely on aesthetics, having no actual out-of-this-world experience to go on.
The archive is divided into albums by mission and magazine of film, but if you don’t fancy getting lost in the near-12,500 images, Teague shares selected highlights from his various collections via the project’s Facebook page.
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