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NASA Dives Into Its Past to Retrieve Vintage Satellite Data

Science  12 Mar 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5971, pp. 1322-1323
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5971.1322

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Summary

Last month, researchers working out of an abandoned McDonald's restaurant on the grounds of NASA Ames Research Center recovered data collected by NASA's Nimbus II satellite on 23 September 1966. The satellite soared over Earth in a polar orbit every 108 minutes, taking pictures of cloud cover and measuring heat radiated from the planet's surface, and creating a photo mosaic of the globe 43 years ago. The resulting image is the oldest and most detailed from NASA's Earth-observing satellites. It's also the latest success story in what researchers call techno-archaeology: pulling data from archaic storage systems. Once forgotten and largely unreadable with modern equipment, old data tapes are providing researchers with new information on changes in the surfaces of Earth and the moon.

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