Giant (insert pun here) for mankind

The title is the general format of various headlines this week: giant blip (Guardian), giant blunder (SMH). The story concerns the whereabouts of the original Apollo 11 landing footage. Sadly, the Guardian decides to dwell on the tired old conspiracy theories – fluttering flag, no stars in sky, multiple light sources, bla bla bla yawn.

I hadn’t realised that the video downlink was of much higher quality than that seen on TV, the latter being degraded by a conversion process. The SMH story features a small inset image of the screen at Parkes Observatory during the landing and the quality of even that is quite amazing. You can find out more at the Parkes website.

Officially the original tapes are not lost – just mislaid and believed to be somewhere at Goddard Space Flight Center. However, only one machine is capable of playing them, it’s due for decommissioning this year and we don’t even know if the tapes are in any condition to be played. Isn’t it weird that the moon landings seem like science fiction to us now, even though they happened over 30 years ago and we think of ours as the technological age?