Archived Data: Lessons Learned from NASA

Archived Data: Lessons Learned from NASA

With the amount of data we store increasing at an exponential rate, many of us turn to archiving technologies as a way of protecting the most important information. I have a pile of CDs and DVDs with photos on them but none of my computers have an optical drive. NASA found itself in the same situation.

NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has brought some 2000 pictures back from 1500 analog data tapes since 2007. The photos were shot using analog cameras and then scanned and transmitted back to earth from satellites orbiting about 30 miles over the moon. It’s hard to believe that technology allowed this back in the 1960s.

Aside from the awesome technology and the skill of the team recovering the images (who worked out of a disused McDonald’s in Silicon Valley) there’s a great lesson in making sure your archived data is stored on media that is easily accessible.

The Hackers Who Recovered NASA’s Lost Lunar Photos [Wired]


  • Your solution – buy a [cheap] optical drive.
    NASA’s solution – recover data from old analog tapes, dating from the 60’s [50 years old].

    I think you’d need to wait 50 years before you compare your situation to that of NASA. Then you need to retrieve data from DVD’s with scratches, and decayed recording chemical layer.

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