Author Topic: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera  (Read 449 times)

Offline onebigmonkey

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Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« on: June 18, 2019, 02:29:17 AM »
As you may know I have a page on my site dedicated to Apollo's Metric Mapping Camera images, as well as Apollo's stellar photography. Knowing that part of the MMC's setup was a stellar camera used to pinpoint the location of the CSM in lunar orbit I asked NASA about the data collections.

It took some time for them to get back to me thanks to various shut downs and other work being understandably more important, but I finally got a couple of images back. The sender apologised for their quality, explaining that they only seem to have 3rd and 4th generation pooor quality copies of these, which is a real shame but they are probably only of esoteric interest in the grand scheme of things.

One image is essentially blank, but the other, numbered 511, shows a very bright object just left of the centre of the frame:



As any amateur sky watcher knows, any very bright object in the night sky is usually Jupiter. Is that the case here?

If I assume that the frame number corresponds to image 511 in the MMC sequence, it was taken on April 21st 1972. At that point Jupiter would have been visible from the lunar surface in the western sky. Again, assuming I have the time and image number correct, the CSM was over Mare Smythii at the time. If we plug the date into Celestia and position ourselves over that location we see this:



Which looks very promising. The camera design certainly suggests that the stellar camera could have been pointing in the direction of Jupiter while looking down to the surface:



Obviously I'm making a huge assumption there, so what I'm wondering is: does the combination of dots at the top mean anything to anyone? It is different to the combination of dots on the other image I was sent, so is likely to be some sort of unique identifier readable by machine, but I don't know how to read it!

Any suggestions, thoughts?
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 02:50:51 AM by onebigmonkey »

Offline ApolloEnthusiast

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2019, 12:09:48 PM »
I found an article that says,

"Exposure information encoded on each film
image as a pattern of dots in the margin was decoded and
recorded."

but I haven't found a key to the encoded information.  Being completely honest, I didn't read the whole article, but from my quick scan I think it is relevant to what you have there.

I'll keep digging and see what I can find.

Offline bknight

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2019, 09:33:13 AM »
omb, on your image 511, I see the bright spot but I'm not sure what you mean by "does the combination of dots at the top mean anything to anyone?".  I don't see any dots at the top of the image I do see a couple of blacker dots above and right of the bright dot and one blacker dot down and left of the bright dot. ?  :-[
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Offline Peter B

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2019, 11:07:20 AM »
omb, on your image 511, I see the bright spot but I'm not sure what you mean by "does the combination of dots at the top mean anything to anyone?".  I don't see any dots at the top of the image I do see a couple of blacker dots above and right of the bright dot and one blacker dot down and left of the bright dot. ?  :-[

See the digits "0511" at the left. Now move up and to the right and look for the row of Braille-like dots.  :D

Offline bknight

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2019, 12:36:54 PM »
I still only see the bright dot, Jupiter probably, but nothing else.

ETA omb, do you have a link to the original?
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Offline Peter B

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2019, 12:44:04 PM »
I still only see the bright dot, Jupiter probably, but nothing else.

ETA omb, do you have a link to the original?

The dots we're talking about are not in the grey truncated circle of the photographic image, but above it - in the black section of the image loaded into this thread. Look at the text above the image: "One image is essentially blank, but the other, numbered 511..." Now look at the words "...blank, but the other..." and go down a short way. Those dots.

Offline bknight

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2019, 03:17:45 PM »
Thanks, now I know what he is referring.  This is perhaps a 2x enlargement
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2019, 04:13:36 PM »
Just to confirm, this is it:



This is the metadata for image 512 in Rev 25 sequence, which may or may not be the photo taken after the one I posted. The bottom line shows the right ascension and declination of the centre of the mapping camera image, but I can't my head around how that translates into a compass bearing.



The more I look at it it makes more sense for the image to be the other way up, with the bright line at the bottom being the lunar horizon. Again assuming that 511 refers to the image number, Jupiter would be on a bearing of about 270 degrees from the camera.

Anyone care to help me make sense of the numbers on the sheet? Bearing in mind that the field of view of the camera (as shown in my first post, is around 24 degrees across the horizontal, is Jupiter a reasonable conclusions?

Offline smartcooky

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2019, 05:18:10 PM »
Just to confirm, this is it:



This looks suspiciously like some type of binary code. If you rotate the sequence 90° CW....



...and each dot represents a "1", the absence of a dot represents a "0" then you have 32 rows of numbers between 0 and 7. To my eye, this looks a lot like like 32, four bit words.

Decoded, this would read

111 = 7
100 = 4
010 = 2
000 = 0
110 = 6
000 = 0
110 = 6
000 = 0
010 = 2
001 = 1
110 = 6
000 = 0
110 = 6
000 = 0
010 = 2
000 = 0
111 = 7
100 = 4
000 = 0
010 = 2
000 = 0
110 = 6
010 = 2
010 = 2
100 = 4
000 = 0
010 = 2
000 = 0
010 = 2
010 = 2
000 = 0
111 = 7

Of course, this is assuming that I have the dots and no-dots correctly assigned to 1 and 0 (could be the other way around), and I have correctly rotated the sequence CW.

I have seen dots like this on film before, usually very old, they are actually holes punched in the film base.



It is usually an encoded emulsion number, or a film type (in this case, its an old roll of Orwo NP22), but I haven't seen one with as many as 32 rows before. However this is no longer used... instead the emulsion number, brand, speed and film type is encoded by exposing the edge of the film.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2019, 05:23:00 PM by smartcooky »
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Offline apollo16uvc

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2019, 03:47:11 PM »
Too fussy and too much glare to make out anything. Looks like somebody took a photo of the film aimed towards a light?

Depending on film format, film size and frame size I can scan it on my Epson V750 or Nikon Coolscan 8000 which I repaired last week.

It is criminal NASA dares to supply such crappy images.

OBM, have you considered filing a FOIA request to get the original film scanned, or at least a decent scan of a copy?

Expenses will need to be paid by us.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2019, 04:08:48 PM by apollo16uvc »
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2019, 03:04:53 AM »
NASA supplied what it has to hand. The guy I dealt with apologised for the quality, but as with many of NASA's Apollo resources (eg the Apollo 11 telemetry tapes), I imagine that they just assumed they were of esoteric interest and had served their purpose. The originals may not even exist - their purpose was to act as locators for the MMC images, not astronomy, and they will have stopped being of any use once the MMC images had been processed.

As a non-US citizen I don't have the resources to start firing FOI's at people, and there are far more important Apollo photographs that need proper attention (like the missing magazines from the gegenschein and other low light photography sessions). Other people are welcome to try!

Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Metric Mapping Camera Stellar Camera
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2019, 04:11:35 AM »
To return to the main area of interest (namely what is that bright blob?), the ephemeris data I gave above start to become quite important.

In order for it to be Jupiter, the CSM needs to have been orbiting with its nose pointing SSE, travelling in a roughly WSW direction. I'm not convinced that this is the case, and the field of view of the stellar camera suggests that Jupiter would more likely further towards the edge of the image. Had the CSM had its nose pointing more NNW, then the stellar mapping camera would have been pointing more ENE. What other bright object familiar to any night sky observer was in that direction?

That's right, Venus :D

The argument against that is that Venus would have been much higher in the sky relative to the horizon.

The ephemeris data suggest to me that the CSM noise is at 187 degrees (the North Deviation Angle), but I could be trying to get the data to fit my wishes and of course the answer could well still be "none of the above"! This latter case is bolstered by the presence of one of the instrument booms in the image, on what would be the eastern side. This would put the CSM travelling with its engine bell leading the way, which does fit in a comment by Mattingly about 'travelling backwards'!
« Last Edit: June 23, 2019, 04:28:31 AM by onebigmonkey »