Monday, April 13, 2009

ASU Apollo Image Archive

The goal of Arizona State University's Apollo Image Archive project is to make the film from each of NASA's Apollo moon missions available to the public, and to provide information on the equipment used to capture the details of the historic space missions. So far, photographs from Apollo Missions 15, 16, and 17 are available to view and download from the site: the ultimate goal is to make all of the film accessible to the public.

Images are provided as both high quality TIFF files and PNG files. The TIFF files are the original scans, before being cleaned up or processed, while the PNG files are altered slightly. ASU allows users to download all of the images, but still holds rights to the images and lists the following as 'fair use' for the collection: "ASU hereby grants permission for news media, educators, personal, and scientific users to download and use individual ASU-produced Apollo images and their complete associated captions if applicable for personal, educational, and research uses without express permission. The following credit line is required: "NASA/JSC/Arizona State University." If space constraints do not permit a credit line of this length, then "NASA/JSC/ASU" is acceptable." So, short of using images from the collection for commercial purposes, it seems like use is pretty much fair game as long as credit is given to the institution.

For now, the images are organized into galleries by their respective Apollo mission. Clicking a thumbnail of an images brings up a larger version on a separate screen that displays metadata and allows for further 'zoomification'. The metadata is extensive: moon mission is listed (15, 16, 17... why not 13? Someone should look into that) along with the film exposure, film type, scanning resolution... even stuff like 'spacecraft altitude', which definitely underused as a metadata field. Good to see it put to use here, in any case!

A map few of the surface of the moon created from the images captured can also be zoomed in on and explored, with allows you to explore the collection 'in context' as it where, complete with freakin' moon coordinates. It's essentially a lo-fi 'google moon', though it lacks some of the bells and whistles. Plus: you can't use it to get directions! Lame.

A few issues: as the site grows (scanning takes a long time, as does processing and cleaning the images) some aspects of the design will have to change. Some sort of search function will have to be added in the future. Right now, images from three of the moon missions are available, and it's already a bit rough to navigate through page after page of photos without any sort of browse or search. This could be tough, since many of the photos look the same... what sort of search fields would you include, exactly, especially if the site is aimed toward the public (who, last time I checked, weren't exactly keen on their specific moon coordinates)? With that in mind, I think a good compromise would be to shift focus towards the map feature: it's an intuitive and very visual way to deal with the images, many of which could look very same-y to the general public.

No comments:

Post a Comment