NASA Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) at NSIDC

Nimbus Data Rescue Project


Depiction of the Nimbus 1 satellite from 1964 Nimbus Advanced Vidicon Camera System film reel Nimbus AVCS sample image Nimbus 1 composite from 1964 showing sea ice extent around Antarctica
  • The Nimbus Program

    First launched in 1964, Nimbus satellites carried a variety of instruments including a High Resolution Infrared Radiometer (HRIR), Advanced Vidicon Camera System (AVCS), and Image Dissector Camera System (IDCS). At its height, the Nimbus mission imaged more than 70% of Earth each day.


  • Reel Time Data

    The AVCS used 3 cameras, a tape recorder, and a vidicon tube to capture, store, and transmit pictures of cloud cover to ground receiving stations within range.


  • Get the Picture?

    NSIDC researchers and staff scanned more than 200,000 AVCS and IDCS images from archival rolls of 35-mm film, rescuing old data from the 60s and 70s for new climate research.


  • Piecing Together the Past

    Mosaics like this, assembled from more than 1000 Nimbus 1 images, allowed NSIDC researchers to estimate the average 7-day Antarctic sea ice extent (green) during the first half of September, 1964.


NSIDC archives and distributes Level 1 and Level 3 data from the Nimbus Data Rescue Project. These data sets consist of digitized black-and-white film images and infrared radiometer data obtained during the 1960s and 70s by the Nimbus 1, Nimbus 2, Nimbus 3, and Nimbus 4 satellites.