Availability of previously lost data and metadata from the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP)

S. Nagihara, D. R. Williams, Y. Nakamura, W. S. Kiefer, S. A. McLaughlin, P. T. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Fourteen types of geophysical instruments deployed at the Apollo 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 sites by the astronauts for long-term observation were collectively called the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP). These instruments were active from the times of their deployment (November 1969–December 1972) to September 1977. At the conclusion of the experiments, the raw instrument data received from the Moon prior to March 1976 were left unarchived. Portions of the data processed by the principal investigators (PIs) of these experiments had been archived at the NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive (NSSDCA) in various formats. The unarchived data, residing then on open-reel magnetic tapes, became lost in the decades since, along with much of the metadata (the supporting documents for these data). We have recently recovered 440 of the previously lost tapes, containing raw ALSEP instrument data from April through June of 1975. Here we describe the data extracted from these tapes and summarize the data products generated for archiving at the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS) and NSSDCA, along with their historical narrative. In addition, we have reformatted many of the datasets delivered to NSSDCA by the PIs in the 1970s for archiving at the PDS. Finally, we have compiled an online searchable repository of ALSEP-related documents by optically scanning tens of thousands of pages of them kept at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Texas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105039
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
StatePublished - Oct 15 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Availability of previously lost data and metadata from the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this