You've seen images from the Apollo missions before, but you've never seen anything like this. More than 8,400 images from NASA's Moon missions have been uploaded to Flickr at a resolution of 1800 dpi.
NASA didn't just send astronauts to the Moon to do scientific exploration, it also sent them equipped with a handful of Hasselblad cameras. The images from these cameras were preserved, and many were digitized. But in recent years the screens we use — the ones in our living rooms, on our desks, and even the ones in our pockets — have seen a drastic increase in quality, leaving these photos looking pixelated and fuzzy. Thanks to some tiresome work from a few enthusiasts, every photo taken on the Moon (and many of the ones taken on the way there and back) has been uploaded in high resolution to one massive Flickr gallery.
The process, perhaps unsurprisingly, was an extremely long one according to Kipp Teague, who runs the Project Apollo Archive. "Around 2004, Johnson Space Center began re-scanning the original Apollo Hasseelblad camera film magazines, and Eric Jones and I began obtaining TIFF (uncompressed, high-resolution) versions of these new scans on DVD," Teague tells The Planetary Society. "These images were processed for inclusion on our websites, including adjusting color and brightness levels, and reducing the images in size to about 1000 dpi (dots per inch) for the high-resolution versions." Because there was so much demand for higher-resolution versions, Teague decided to reprocess the entire set and upload them to Flickr magazine by magazine.
The results speak for themselves. Hasseblads are known for capturing impressive detail — they're referred to as "medium format" cameras, which means the film they use is three to four times as large as a standard 35mm frame — and so much of that translates in these new images. Craters in the surface have new life, the pores of astronauts' skin show up, and specks of propellant are even visible in images of the lunar landing module's separation from the orbiter. (Some later missions used 35mm film as well, some of which can be seen in the archive.)
The best news might be that there's even more to come. While the set includes photos from most of the missions, there are no images from Apollos 7, 8, 9, 10, or 13. Some of those will be added to the set soon, according to Teague, while the rest will have to wait. That said, 8,400 is plenty to start with, and we've picked just a few that show off some of the detail. Fans of lunar exploration should have a field day with these unprecedented views of our gray little satellite. Moon landing truthers, on the other hand...!