The Lunar Data Project: Recovery and Restoration of Apollo Data

Thursday, 18 December 2014
David R Williams, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NSSDCA, Code 690.1, Greenbelt, MD, United States, H Kent Hills, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 690.1 / Adnet Systems, Greenbelt, MD, United States, Patrick T Taylor, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 698 / Planetary Geodynamics, Greenbelt, MD, United States, Edwin J Grayzeck, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 690.1, Greenbelt, MD, United States and Edward A Guinness, Washington University in St Louis, PDS Geosciences Node, St. Louis, MO, United States
Apollo missions collected lunar data from orbit and the surface, including returns from long-lived Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) stations that operated autonomously until shut-down in September, 1977. All of the early data were analyzed and reported over the duration of the Apollo missions, and some were archived, but due to several factors much of the later data were never examined or archived. In some cases, we had to search additional information sources to obtain missing critical metadata needed to understand the structure and formats. The data typically were archived on media such as microfilm or microfiche, which are not easily readable or amenable to numerical analysis, or stored on 7-track (since moved to 9-track) magnetic tape in older formats that are now complicated to process. In some cases the data did not have the necessary information to translate their output into scientifically useful numbers. In many cases where this information was available it was still necessary to reformat the numbers and describe them in a more accessible form.

The Lunar Data Project was started at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) National Space Science Data Center (now the NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive (NSSDCA)) in 2003 to restore the archived Apollo data and convert it to usable fully-described digital data sets suitable for archive with the Planetary Data System (PDS). A committee of lunar scientists at GSFC was convened to determine the highest priority data sets for restoration. In 2007 the Lunar Data Node was created at GSFC under the auspices of the PDS Geosciences Node in order to facilitate archive of data sets with PDS. This data restoration is not only time critical due to the loss of ability to read older media, it is also urgent because many of the people with the knowledge of these data have retired and are difficult to contact. We will report on the efforts being made by the Lunar Data Project / Lunar Data Node, the specific data sets being restored, and the status of the restorations.