Apollo 11 First Steps, High Quality 16mm DAC





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Published on Feb 23, 2009

Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon during the Apollo-11 mission are often shown as seen by the Apollo Lunar Television Camera - a black and white slow-scan TV camera, but there was another camera on the mission which captured the first steps on the moon and other portions of the mission.

The Maurer 16mm Data Acquisition Camera was a 16mm movie camera that NASA loaded with the highest quality, finest grained, film stock of its day. The camera was capable of running at 24 fps for full motion recording, 12 fps for near full motion recording as well as 6 and 1 fps for time laps recording. (The slowed recording speeds used to conserve film).

On Apollo-11 the DAC was mounted near the window of the lunar module and was initially operated at full speed to record the historic first portion of the EVA by Neil Armstrong. Buzz Aldrin remained in the lunar module to record the EVA and to operate other instruments such as the TV downlink before joining Armstrong on the lunar surface. If you look carefully you can see Buzz Aldrin's reflection on the window as he works in the lunar module.

After this sequence, the camera was adjusted and slowed down to the 1FPS time laps/stop motion setting which was used to record the entirety of the mission EVA by the two astronauts. Such speed was required to keep the film from running out during the EVA. The camera did not record sound, but the corresponding sound from the radio downlink has been added and synchronized.

This could be considered the first "High definition video" taken on the moon, since the DAC's film quality meets or exceeds high definition video standards.

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