Developing 70mm analog film in space and beaming it back to Earth, losslessly!

I recently came across a story about how probes were sent out from Earth to orbit the Moon. Their mission was to take pictures of the Moon (including the far end), high resolution pictures with the goal to find a landing spot for the Apollo missions.

Remember, this was fifty years ago and the camera technology they had back then was not just analog ones, but the probes were also equipped with an extra set of tools. From the article:

The Lunar Orbiters never returned to Earth with the imagery. Instead, the Orbiter developed the 70mm film (yes, film) and then raster scanned the negatives with a 5 micron spot (200 lines/mm resolution) and beamed the data back to Earth using lossless analog compression, which was yet to actually be patented by anyone.

From the article

Imagine that, developing the film in space and beaming the lossless analog data back to us on Earth. I find this so enormously impressive.

Read the whole story