Between 1969 and 1972, NASA left 12 Hasselblad cameras on the moon to make room for moon rocks. One camera that wasn’t left there was a 16mm camera called the “Data Acquisition Camera” used during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. It’s now in the center of a legal dispute between the US government and astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to set foot on the moon. Mitchell claims that NASA allowed him to keep the camera as a souvenir after the mission, while NASA says that no evidence of this transfer ever took place. The camera was slated to be auctioned for an estimated $60,000-$80,000, but now NASA is suing Mitchell to get the camera back. The lawsuit states,
All equipment and property used during NASA operations remains the property of NASA unless explicitly released or transferred to another party.
Looks like those Hasselblads on the moon aren’t free for the taking after all. Shucks.
Last week we shared about how astronauts left some Nikon DSLR gear to burn up in the atmosphere instead of having it brought back to Earth, but it certainly wasn’t the first time cameras were left in space. Did you know that there are 12 Hasselblad cameras currently sitting on the surface of the moon? The cameras that shot those iconic images of the moon’s surface between 1969 and 1972 were left there to allow for the 25kg of lunar rock samples that were brought back instead. Only the film magazines were brought back.
NASA captured this incredible photograph of the tornado that tracked across Massachusetts last week, showing the storm’s destructiveness as seen from space. The Westfield-Charlton tornado remained on the ground for an hour and ten minutes, carving a 39-mile-long path of destruction into the ground that was half a mile wide at some points.
Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli recently captured some amazing one-of-a-kind photographs of the Space Shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station from about 600 feet away using a Nikon D3x and 24-120mm lens. What’s interesting is the standard practice for returning to Earth: while the memory cards are brought down safely with the astronauts in a descent module, the camera gear is left in the orbital module, which falls into Earth’s atmosphere and burns up!
That’s standard practice for Soyuz re-entries: The astronauts take only what they need and shed the excess baggage to cut down on weight … even if that excess baggage retails for about $8,000, as was the case for the Nikon. [#]
Here’s a good example of when HDR photography is useful: NASA created this image of the Space Shuttle Endeavour lifting off for the final time by combining six separate photographs.
Each image was taken at a different exposure setting, then composited to balance the brightness of the rocket engine output with the regular daylight levels at which the orbiter can be seen. The processing software digitally removes pure black or pure white pixels from one image and replaces them with the most detailed pixel option from the five other images. This technique can help visualize debris falling during a launch or support research involving intense light sources like rocket engines, plasma experiments and hypersonic vehicle engines. [#]
Here’s a photograph we’ve all taken… only in our bathroom mirror. NASA astronaut Michael Fincke shot this photograph with what looks like one of the Nikon DSLRs on board using a reflective-portion of the International Space Station. This means he shot a self-portrait roughly 200 miles above the ground while zipping around the planet at 17,000 mph.
After Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on its final mission, a woman named Stefanie Gordon snapped a photograph of it from her Delta airlines seat using her iPhone, sharing it with friends and family through TwitPic. Though it quickly went viral, and was shared all over the media, Gordon was only paid by five media organizations for licensing rights to the photo. The Red Tape blog over on MSNBC wrote a great post a couple days ago bringing the issue of copyright infringement to the public’s attention:
In a world where social media users, bloggers and even some professional journalists are increasingly comfortable simply copying the work of others and republishing it, can intellectual property rights survive? Can original content survive? And what should the world do when an amateur photographer takes a newsworthy photo and shares it on a social network?
We didn’t share Gordon’s photo here on PetaPixel because we never got her permission to do so (she never responded to our requests). Luckily for us, NASA just published this awesome (non-copyrighted) photograph of the launch that you can freely share and republish.
Who says you need a heavy and expensive lens to capture a beautiful shuttle launch photograph from far away? After the Space Shuttle Endeavour blasted off yesterday on its final mission, one of the photographs that went viral was shot from an airplane using an iPhone. Another was this stunning photo made by Trey Ratcliff using a Nikon 50mm prime lens while thousands of photographers around him were holding massive lenses.
Even though I had my Nikon D3X set up on a tripod with my 28-300 lens, I actually shot this picture with my 50mm prime lens on my Nikon D3S! Everything did go according to plan, and I had run through the routine a few times before the launch. The plan was to fire away on my main body during the first 15 seconds or so. At that point, the D3X starts to have bufferring problems, so I switched to my Chewbacca-bandolier D3S. I pulled it up into a vertical orientation and rapid-fired just as the shuttle tore into the clouds. [#]
You can read more about the shot over on his website here.
Image credit: Photograph by Trey Ratcliff and used with permission
After a seven year journey that involved being slingshotted around the planets in our solar system, NASA’s MESSENGER probe entered Mercury’s orbit on March 17th, 2011. Yesterday the probe beamed back the first photograph ever taken of the planet from orbit (seen above). Read more…
Those epic photographs of stars and galaxies that you see on sites like NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day don’t actually look like that straight out of the camera. Instead, a good deal of post-processing magic goes into each photograph. How much magic? Countless black and white photographs shot with different cameras are carefully weaved together, and color is added to enhance the final image. The video above gives a quick and interesting two minute tour of how they post-processed one particular photo in Photoshop.