NASA photo, video collection to be digitized

It's working with the Internet Archive to organize its immense image collection

With a 50-year collection of photos, videos, films and other material, NASA's archives from manned and unmanned space missions is almost as vast as outer space.

And now, NASA is undertaking a project to put all of that material into a central archive that can be searched by space flight aficienadoes.

In an announcement Thursday, NASA said it has reached a deal with the non-profit, San Francisco-based Internet Archive to scan, archive and manage the agency's vast collection. The effort will be paid for solely through grants, foundations and individual contributions received by the Internet Archive.

NASA already has much of its collection online, but the material is divided up into more than 20 different imagery categories, making it hard to find specific images or archives unless a user know exactly where it is, said spokesman Bob Jacobs. "One of the challenges, and the thing that interested the Internet Archive, is that the agency didn't have digital media storage [procedures in place] as one of its core competencies," he said. "The bottom line here is that we have lots of assets...but we had no real coordinated and certainly no comprehensive search capability...to find the best of our images."

That will change with the creation of a single resource online where visitors can search and find the high- and low-resolution images and information they want, he said.

The agency will begin by providing the most easily accessible images and other resources so they can be put into the new online database, with additional material added as it is unearthed. "There's 50 years' worth of materials here and it's in a variety of media and locations," including 10 NASA field centers, Jacobs said.

Much of what is in the collection may be surprising when it is released as the five-year project gets up to speed, he said. "I don't think that any of us know the depth to which a lot of these assets are stored. You finish one project and you open up another box filled with things you've never seen before."

Paul Hickman, office manager for the Internet Archive, said the group will house the digitized collection on its high-capacity redundant servers in San Francisco, Europe and Egypt. Presently, the group handles an estimated 5PB (petabytes) of storage, but more capacity can be added. "Whatever they have, we'll have the capacity for it," he said.

The Internet Archive was selected by NASA for the project following a competitive process, he said.

The images and other data will likely be provided to the Internet Archive on hard drives so that it can be transferred to the group's archives for storage, Hickman said. Other materials, including printed documents, microfilm, books, computer presentations, audio files and VHS video will be scanned or copied and then digitized for the online archive.

Initial plans for the project call for the Internet Archive to consolidate NASA's major image collections in the first year, with more to come the year after that. In the third year, NASA and Internet Archive will identify analog imagery that needs to be digitized and added. The two partners will also work to build a system to automatically capture, catalog and store future material in the online archive.

The project will allow the space agency to more easily share and showcase its unique achievements, including remarkable photos from its Mars rover missions and from its manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon and beyond.

"Any opportunity that we have to allow the public to experience these missions, well, they're just incredible opportunities for us to do that," Jacobs said. "We have some of the most amazing imagery of anyone on the planet."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Todd R. Weiss

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?