If you’re a space enthusiast you probably love looking at Apollo mission images. After all, the are a) dramatic, b) visually stunning and c) remind us of a glorious time, in days long past, when human beings actually went somewhere, and explored, instead of bumbling about in Earth orbit like glorified campers. Many of the Apollo images are iconic – Buzz Aldrin standing on the Moon, posing for Neil Armstrong (wish Buzz had returned the favour, but as we all know he was “too busy” to take an official portrait of the first man on the Moon… busy taking photos of rocks, and the sky, and the legs of the lunar lander…), Dave Scott posing beside the lunar rover, “Earth-rise” etc – but I think it’s fair to say that books, magazines and websites tend to use the same images all the time, so over time those images might have lost a little of their impact.
Of course, if you are online savvy, and “in the know” about Apollo, it has been possible for quite a while to look at other Apollo images, ones not so well known, but it’s been, to put it kindly, a bit of a faff about looking at them.
That has just changed.
NASA has just set up a new website – The Project Apollo Archive – which is basically an online gallery of all the Apollo images. Yes, all of them, thousands and thousands of them, more than 8000 of them, in fact. There are no endless lists to click through, no obscure catalogue numbers, no cryptic references; just page after delicious page of images – actual images – to scroll through and drool over, separated into the different missions.
Seriously, it’s as if someone at NASA, staring out the window and chewing their pen on a slow day, thought “Now… if I was a space enthusiast, or a teacher, or a student, fascinated by Apollo, what would I really like to see..?” and just made it. (One fly in the ointment: it’s a Flickr account gallery, but you don’t have to be a member of or sign up to Flickr to view or download the images).
The site is basically a free, all-you-can-eat buffet of Apollo images. Just pick an Apollo mission, click on a folder, and start scrolling, and eventually, because there are so many images, you will see a picture you have never seen before. The “classics” are there, of course, and when you see those you’ll smile and think “Ah yes, that one…” but a little bit further down, or in the next album, you’ll see something… new, an image taken on the way to, on, or coming back from the Moon that you won’t recognise, and that’s just a fantastic feeling.
I’ll be honest tho; looking back through these galleries I was torn between feeling renewed admiration for the Apollo missions and the men and women behind them, and feeling frustrated and angry that we’re not on the Moon NOW and, indeed, taking our first steps on Mars. The images in the Project Apollo Archive remind us how high NASA soared, and how it has stalled since, at least in terms of crewed exploration…
Of course, faced with all those images I couldn’t resist doing a little “tinkering” (really just cropping, boosting contrast, ‘cos some are *very* washed out-looking etc)- and making some “processed versions” of the images. Not to “improve” them – how arrogant would THAT be, to even THINK you could improve images taken by astronauts On The Moon????? – just to bring out some details, and make them look a bit more dynamic, more like the images we’re now so used to seeing on the ISS and of distant planets and moons.
So, anyway, here you go. I hope you find at least one you like!
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