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Moon Media NASA Space Science

Has NASA Found the Lost Moon Tapes? 222

jra writes "For over 5 years, various people both inside and retired from NASA have been engaged in a quest. They were looking for the long-lost original slow-scan video tapes from the Apollo 11 moon landing, which went missing in a record-keeping snafu, covered in unreasonable detail in a Wired article a couple years ago. Well now, according to the UK's Sunday Express newspaper, some tapes may or may not have been found which may or may not be the Apollo video. Apparently — I love the British press — the NASA boffins are a bit put out that it leaked; they were hoping to blow everyone's minds with the scoop themselves."
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Has NASA Found the Lost Moon Tapes?

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  • Hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @02:26PM (#28505753) Journal

    That would be great if true. To lose the originals of the greatest technological and exploration achievement event since Columbus is a gut-wrenching thought. (And the existing copies are poor quality.)

  • Conspiracy theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by veektor ( 545483 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @02:36PM (#28505857)
    Crucially, they could once and for all dispel 40 years of wild conspiracy theories.

    New facts would never dispel a perfectly good conspiracy theory. Instead, the new facts are evidence that the conspiracy is still on-going.

    Up your k1lt!
  • May "or may not" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by uberdilligaff ( 988232 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @02:43PM (#28505903)
    Wouldn't it be nice if people (such as the summary writer) understood that "may" inherently includes the uncertainty as to whether it actually "does", or perhaps "does not"? Then they wouldn't feel compelled to append the completely redundant "or may not" every time.
  • Re:Hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @02:52PM (#28505987) Journal

    while Columbus stumbled across the New World despite sheer ignorance and wrongheadedness and was really lucky not to die through sheer incompetence.

    He was one of the best navigators in the business at the time, and had a very experienced crew. It's just that he was missing a few pieces of the puzzle. On his second mission, he used his knowledge of celestial mechanics and eclipses to fool some island tribes into thinking he was a god, saving his crew from torture or starvation.

    Further, Neal Armstrong was once quoted as saying he felt they had a 50/50 chance before the trip. Many things did almost go wrong on the first flight, including an overloaded computer and insufficient landing fuel. Luck, skill, and experience overrode those. Apollo 11 was hardly a sure thing.

    They were *all* gamblers.

  • "Scoop" ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jimhill ( 7277 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:00PM (#28506035) Homepage

    Apparently someone forgot to tell NASA that they're a government agency and not some kind of mass-media Nielsen-dependent agency that relies on "scoops" and "special announcements". When they find something, they should announce it immediately. Suppose they'd found these tapes on July 21...would they have thought it appropriate to sit on them until July 20, 2019, just to have something special to go with the 50th anniversary?

  • Re:Hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:03PM (#28506063) Journal
    He was a good navigator; but he also believed in a number for the earth's circumference that was wildly wrong(and this wasn't just a "product of his time" error, superior numbers were widely available, and he was kind of a crank for not using them). It was sheer luck that the Americas happened to exist right about where Asia wasn't.
  • by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:06PM (#28506091)
    It's great that these tapes are found (and shocking that they were ever lost). But I find it a remarkable and wholly unbelievable coincidence that they were found just before the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.

    Yeah, no wonder NASA is pissed at it leaking now. Their marketing droids must be furious.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:23PM (#28506231)

    You are technically correct. However, there is a subtle difference between 'may' and 'may not'.

    While both imply uncertainty, I think 'may' is generally more certain than 'may not'.

    Think of it this way:
    'may' - 75% certain
    'may not' - 25% certain
    'may or may not' - 50% certain.

  • Re:"Scoop" ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Somegeek ( 624100 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:44PM (#28506401)

    If only we lived in a world where government agencies got the funding that they needed regardless of current taxpayer whim. In one example, if NASA drops in popularity then they become an easy target for Senators looking to make a name for themselves as budget cutters.

    Thus any scoops or special announcements that they can come up with help keep them popular in the taxpayer's eye and help keep the budget cutters away.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @03:50PM (#28506443) Journal
    So, Is there hope for finding the missing Dr Who episodes?
  • Re:Hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frieko ( 855745 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @04:35PM (#28506749)
    So does a pencil.
  • Re:"Scoop" ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Sunday June 28, 2009 @05:33PM (#28507143)

    I disagree with all sorts of things the government does; can I have my money back too? I'm not a big fan of the military; if you want to develop new fighter jets, use someone else's money please. And why is my money being used to operate the patent office? Or the courts that adjudicate patent disputes?

  • Re:...and 0.1% (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Sunday June 28, 2009 @10:13PM (#28509007) Homepage

    It is just as relevant today in realtime mission-critical operations.

    When you write realtime code on a realtime OS you design your application so that it can get a certain amount of work done in a certain amount of time. It is critical to the operation of the machine that those tasks get done exactly on time or sooner (or maybe not even sooner). As a result, you don't use some OS and language that just runs random tasks at random times and that at any given time you have no idea what is running. Instead everything is prioritized, and you know exactly what the cpu will be working on in any phase of your mission. You don't want the garbage collector to decide to wake up one second before touchdown / docking / intercept / etc.

    Sure, the Apollo hardware was an extreme case of this - wouldn't be surprised if half of it was pure single-tasking (want to do 2 jobs at once - just have 2 CPUs). It probably used core memory and I wouldn't be surprised if the RAM had as much latency as a hard drive does today. Then again, at least the cores aren't going to be bit-flipped by a cosmic ray (unless it is the kind of ray that feels like you're hit on the head by a golf-ball when it hits you). :)

    You can't have race conditions in a mission-critical realtime system - or at least you can't have them where it counts.

  • In fact, "abort" would have been the "right" decision in my opinion based on what was known at the time.

    Unless you are Neil Armstrong. There is a reason he was picked to go on that mission. He starts out as a combat jet pilot over Korea, brings back a totally shot up bird.

    After taking a bit of time to get some additional education, he winds up as a test pilot... flying all sorts of exotic craft. He makes his way into NASA, and there, he makes a quick decision that saves a tumbling Gemini spacecraft. Then, he's ejecting from wildly unstable lunar lander proxy craft.

    Pretty much his whole career, Armstrong flew a bunch of crazy aircraft in a bunch of dangerous situations and proved himself as having a knack for making the right decisions, and quickly, because of crunch time.

    He gambled that the computer was still returning...excessive risk

    I think its fair to say that with his track record, he didn't take excessive risk -for him-. He was the best flyer NASA had, and he was doing his job.

  • Re:Hope (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 29, 2009 @04:07AM (#28511161)

    Sounds like you are in the 90% who don't have embedded system experience. The actual error is "executive overflow", and "overloaded computer" is a good transliteration. Some jobs weren't finishing in time (due to the extra data and interrupts, which weren't designed for), so lower priority jobs were getting culled. Generally emdedded real-time systems are designed to work within the restraints of their hardware and its necessary for jobs to finish when expected. The Apollo AGC wasn't a general purpose multitasking computer like on your desk, so your java programming experience doesn't really apply.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson