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Watching man on the moon
blog 5 mrt 2019

Watching Man on the Moon

Geschreven door Hans Jongste
Dit artikel is alleen beschikbaar in het Engels. The first landing on the Moon in 1969 is still a fascinating story, even after 50 years. I remember that the "Eagle" lunar module of Apollo 11 descended to the Moon surface in a spot called Tranquility Base. After some time astronaut Neil Armstrong climbed down from the module and became the first human being that walked on the Moon.

Actually, we could watch on television how Armstrong made this first step. The Eagle was equipped with a video camera and transmitter to capture and beam video to Earth. Some fuzzy images on my parents’ black and white television come to mind.

Later, after Apollo 11 returned to Earth, I learned that some remarkable photographs were taken on the Moon. The astronauts used a Hasselblad photo-camera (500EL Data Camera) adapted for high quality photography in space. Apollo 11 carried three of these cameras to the Moon.

Each of the cameras was equipped with an internal register plate to create visible sizing markings on photographs. To ease operation, each camera also had an battery powered electric drive to transport photographic film. 

Living in the digital age, it is amazing to realise that in spite of its name, the Data Camera was still an analog camera and that all these high quality photo images were created by a photochemical process in an emulsion layer on a plastic film carrier.

The cameras were prepared for use in the vacuum of space between about −60°C and about +100°C. In vacuum, removal of static charge from a surface can be troublesome.  Static charge can build-up within the camera due to the transport of the plastic film through the camera, and could result in distorted images on photos. To avoid this, Hasselblad provided a transparent conductive coating on the register plate between the film and the lens system. The conductive coating allowed to remove any electric charge between the film and the register plate. 

Living in the digital age, it is amazing to realise that in spite of its name, the Data Camera was still an analog camera and that all these high quality photo images were created by a photochemical process in an emulsion layer on a plastic film carrier. Digital image sensors such as CCD and CMOS sensors were developed later. NASA (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) filed a patent for a CMOS pixel sensor in 1995 (US 5,471,515). Nowadays you can find one or more of these CMOS pixel sensors in your smartphone.

 

This blog post is part of a series of 'Man on the Moon' articles to honour the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.