Mountain View, CA - Odyssey Moon Limited, the first official contender in the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE, announced today it is a participant in the (LOIRP) underway at the NASA Ames Research Center. The purpose of the LOIRP is to digitize the imagery available of the lunar surface taken in the 1960's by five NASA Lunar Orbiter missions sent to the Moon in advance of the Apollo program. The Lunar Orbiters took thousands of images of the lunar surface in 1966 and 1967 that were never totally processed due to the limitations of computing technology at the time and concerns over revealing the capability of US satellite imaging. The public saw mostly lower resolution images while the highest resolution images were archived on carefully stored data tapes awaiting the technology and motivation to complete the work.
In support of the project Odyssey Moon supported the salary of an intern who provided direct support to the project's refurbishment of the original data tape drives. Odyssey Moon has also provided funding to the team to allow specific areas of the publicly released imagery to be enhanced for use in mission planning. Efforts to refurbish heritage equipment used to record the original images recently succeeded in playing back stunning visual and audio data from the archived lunar tapes that were recorded over forty years ago. NASA and the LOIRP team officially announced their achievement on November 13th, 2008 at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.
"The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project is the greatest techno-archaeology project of the space-age," said Dr. Robert Richards, CEO of Odyssey Moon Ltd. "This is an inspiring story of vision and perseverance. Skycorp, SpaceRef and NASA have been extraordinary catalysts in the recovery of this precious imagery and Odyssey Moon is proud to be associated with the effort."
All images processed will become part of the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS), available to researchers and historians worldwide. As new datasets are developed by the current generation of lunar orbiters from China, Japan, India and the US, the historic LOIRP images will provide valuable comparative information and may still boast the highest resolution imagery of certain regions of the Moon. Odyssey Moon became involved with the LOIRP with the hope of acquiring additional stereo imagery from the datasets that could help identify safe landing sites and areas of scientific and exploration interest.
Odyssey Moon is planning its first robotic lunar mission to the lunar equator, which was the primary focus of the Lunar Orbiter images as NASA planned the landing sites for Apollo program. The participation in the LOIRP project is important to the Odyssey Moon commercial lunar enterprise as both a strategic activity and, if successful, an important contribution to history. Photo: LOIRP Project Leader Dennis Wingo works with project staff to acquire high resolution images of the Moon from old NASA Lunar Orbiter data tapes.
About Odyssey Moon
Odyssey Moon Ventures LLC is a U.S. company with offices in Washington, DC and Cocoa Beach, Florida. The company intends to develop and commercialize innovative technologies to offer frequent, low cost and reliable access to the lunar surface for private and government customers. In addition to working with NASA on lander development, Odyssey Moon Ventures will be responsible for the U.S. launch operations and ground processing of spacecraft that will be used in future commercial spaceflights to the Moon.
Odyssey Moon Limited is a multi-national commercial lunar enterprise based in the Isle of Man that was first unveiled in December 2007 as the first official contender in the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE competition. The company is an innovative partnership of aerospace, financial, science, education, legal and policy interests that have come together to offer unique commercial lunar business services and products for humanity's permanent return to the Moon. Odyssey Moon's prime contractor is MDA, an experienced company with substantial space heritage in providing robotics on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station, and more recently for satellite servicing and planetary exploration. Odyssey Moon is dedicated to the long-term responsible development of the Moon for the benefit of all humanity.
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