Claim: NASA is doctoring an image [Scanner Dirt]


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I want to demonstrate how NASA is clearly doctoring an image.

From Apollo 7 Mission we have this image: AS07-07-1738

This is taken from the US National Archive here:

I have circled the object you can clearly see:


What we find in the Apollo Image Atlas is a darkened version of the image, the resolution has been reduced, and the black object has been removed.

The source of this image is here:

I assume that these are the same images, as they both reference the code: AS07-07-1738

I am repeating the claim made in this video:
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The full set of Apollo images was put onto Flickr in October 2015 and they hadn't bothered removing it for that.

Link on Flickr

I've got to say as well that the image that Logician posted from is an abomination. I didn't know what they did to it to get it as bad as they did (but I do now). Ok a tiny 450x450 resolution and highly compressed compressed judging by the artifacts doesn't help. However the thing has been distorted in some way as well, as when I tried to match it to my hi-res image, there was a noticeable difference that looked like the image had been tapered out and to the left towards the top of the image.

Curious to see if there was more information about this image I took a around the site Logician identifies as the source of it and found the part of if it that contains the description of the process by which they created the images, which I think explains a lot.

Description is as follows.

Apollo Image Atlas

Scanning And Image Processing

Background Information on the Production of the Images used in the Apollo (Handheld/Still) Imagery Catalog

This catalog was created using a set of images received from the NASA Johnson Space Center. The images were created as follows:
  1. The Apollo film was scanned using a video camera, with a resolution of over 700 lines, to create a digital file.
  2. Each frame was digitized as a 24 bit color image at 756 x 486 pixels, producing a file of approximately 1.1 megabytes in Targa format.
  3. The Targa images were then processed to produce a 640 x 480 image at 72 ppi in JPEG (JPG) format. These images were also (significantly) compressed, reducing the final file size to about 40 kilobytes on average.
These images were further processed by the LPI as follows:
  1. They were cropped to match the original proportions of the image on the original film. This also had the effect of removing some of the curved edges introduced in the original scanning process.
  2. The images then received some "color" processing. This was done because the aging of the film had altered the original colors captured when the film was exposed. In the case of the images on black and white film, the "color shifting" was removed by grayscaling the images. For the images on color film, a generic color processing formula, arrived at by tweaking representative images by hand, was applied in an attempt to shift them back closer to their original colors.
  3. The resulting images were then saved again in JPEG format, with a small amount of compression, at 450 x 450 pixels to create the browse images and at 120 x 120 pixels to create the thumbnail images used in the catalog.
Because of all this processing, these catalog images should not be used for research purposes. They should only be used to select and identify images for use in a research project. Higher resolution products should be obtained for use in any scientific investigation(s).

So, scanned with a video camera (that probably explains the distortion I found) at "over 700 lines" of resolution, to create a 756x486 pixel image, then reduced to 640x480 and saved as highly compressed JPEG's, then colour processed, then reduced to 450x450 and saved out as JPEG again will additional compression.

I'm surprised there was anything left after all that.

But I especially like the part where it states "Because of all this processing, these catalog images should not be used for research purposes".

So... can we this to bed as some insane processing of images of the original photos captured by a video camera, then subjected to the kind of processing one can only describe as digital torture, to finally be saved out as massively compressed 450x450 images.
It was to create a smaller usable index for quick browsing purposes on older computer equipment.
Understood regarding the limitations of the time and the fact that this was intended as an index, glorified thumbnails really. By the standard of the day, this kind of scanning was probably pretty high end, but still, ouch... poor pixels.

Being serious, my main point being that this is not a "doctored images" as Logician states, but simply a very small, poor quality (compared with the modern scans that they are being compared with), distorted and massively compressed image. Any difference between that image and the more modern scan in the OP is the result of differences in the scanning methods and post processing.
Something that goes unknown to the outside is that it is incredibly difficult to get permission to use an edited photo in an official capacity at NASA.

I was a NASA contractor for several years in the last decade, and one of my jobs was doing graphic design work. There was a time we were using a photo collage from MSL Curiosity as a cover image and no matter how it was positioned and cropped (cropping was ok), there was a black rectangle of missing section in the panorama. I didn't really think much about it and made a simple rectangle in Photoshop to overlay the missing section with the Martian sky color from another portion of the panorama. It went off for approval and word came back almost instantly that I had to rework the cover. I was authorized to either leave the black mission section or use a clearly contrasting color to replace it. But mimicking the Martian sky was explicitly out of the question.

This wasn't data going into a repository or anything. It was a simple report cover, and even that wasn't allowed to have a simple cosmetic edit made to it.
About the Scanning And Image Processing , information was missing.


"Film Cleaning Details

The goal of this project is to preserve the Apollo flight film products - in both the digital and physical formats - for generations to come. These films have been in deep storage for almost three decades; prior to that, they were exposed to the space environment, developed, and occasionally used for research activities. Consequently, the preserved film stocks have, in some cases, acquired foreign material which must be removed. Prior to scanning, each film roll is therefore gently, non-abrasively cleaned using exacting procedures set forth by the NASA-JSC curatorial staff. Absolutely no abrasive techniques are used in the cleaning of these films to preclude the possibility of damage to these priceless historical treasures. As a consequence of this precaution, the cleaning process only removes debris that is loosely adhered to the film stock (e.g. dust and lint) but any strongly adhered debris are simply left on the film."

Most likely it is a "any strongly adhered debris"
I believe that this same procedure / criterion has been applied to the scanning of films from all Apollo and Gemini missions, a treasure.
And then, they were processed to have a pictures clean of debris / dirt at memory file. But not "hiding" the originals.
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Dr. Rasavihari claims (00:10:00 in the video) that NASA between 2001-2009 took their photos off their webpages and photoshopped them.

He talks about, and his video demonstrates going to Internet Archive and looking for Apollo 11 images and comparing them to new ones (on Flickr/NASA) but he does not give exact references to which ones he claims have been dishonestly doctored.

In 2001 consumer grade computers were not very powerful and could not display high resolution images easily.

One example we see at 00:11:29 is this image below. Is it significant? Some fibrous piece of dirt on the negative that he claims is missing / cleaned in one of the versions of it?


00:11:41 features a specific photo: AS17-140-21495HR
Here it is taken from Flickr in the The Project Apollo Archive

And here is a 2007 copy of it from the same Project Apollo archive via The Internet Archive

He claims one problem is "uneven backlighting". If we look at the Moon Rover and see how much detail we are able to pick up in the new scan it's clear that the new scan is much more skillfully done and that the light levels in it are better.

Below I've made a comparison if an old scan of AS17-140-21493 and a new one. I've placed the two images on two different layers on top of each other and resized the small one to match with the larger one.

The new one is 4175x4175 pixels and 9.5mb whilst the old one is 800x641 pixels and merely 154kb.

In the following video I am first again showing the differences between the images and then adjusting the levels on the new one to match the old picture. (Result: they look almost identical (level wise)

What should they look like? Well that's a complicated question. If you want to preserve as much data as possible then the raw unprocessed high resolution scans of the negatives are the best. And that is what the images are. If you want to have them look like what the Astronauts saw then they will have to be involved in the process and adjust the levels on the photos themselves. Of course it's individual so one Astronaut might want it darker or lighter...

I went to Rasaviharii's FB group that has over 43000 members to discuss this but was promptly censored and banned.