[FPSPACE] Forgotten Apollo Data Could Solve Moon Dust Problem
ljk4 at msn.com
Tue Nov 11 23:49:44 EST 2008
November 10, 2008
Forgotten Apollo Data Could Solve Moon Dust Problem
Written by Nancy Atkinson
Old, forgotten data from three Apollo moon missions could help overcome one
of the biggest environmental hurdles facing future lunar colonists.
Pervasive moon dust can clog equipment, scratch helmet visors or worse, get
inside astronaut lungs and cause serious health problems. But 173 data tapes
hold information that could be essential in overcoming the problems the dust
The only trouble is that the tapes are archived on "ancient" 1960's
technology and no one could find the right equipment to playback the tapes.
However, the Australian Computer Museum has an old IBM729 Mark 5 tape drive
that should do the trick, IF the machine can be restored to operable
The IBM729 Mark 5 tape recorder is about as big as a household refrigerator.
It recorded data from Apollo 11, 12 and 14 missions that carried "dust
detectors." Information from the detectors was beamed back to earth and
recorded onto tapes. Copies of the tapes were supposedly sent to NASA, but
the tapes were lost or misplaced before they could be archived in NASA's
holdings. But the original data tapes have sat in Perth, Australia for
almost 40 years.
Physicist Brian O'Brien invented the detectors. He wrote a couple of papers
on the information in the 1970's, but no one was very interested in moon
dust back them. However now, scientists realize this information could help
make future missions to the moon more feasible.
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