New life for old data: Nimbus Data Rescue Project publishes first data set

Back in the 1960s, technology to process massive amounts of data and imagery did not exist. Advancements in technology now allow for the processing of film into a digital format. The Nimbus Data Rescue Project set out on a techno-archeological mission to convert data and images from the NASA Nimbus 1 and 2 satellites that were developed on film into a more manageable digital format. These data extend the satellite record back in time providing the earliest satellite data of polar sea ice extent.

The Nimbus Advanced Vidicon Camera System Visible Imagery L1, HDF5 (NmAVCS1H) is the first data set publicly available from the Nimbus Data Rescue Project. NmAVCS1H consists of black-and-white Advanced Vidicon Camera System (AVCS) images that were acquired by the Nimbus 1 satellite during September 1964 and by Nimbus 2 from May to August 1966. NSIDC researchers and staff scanned the images from archival rolls of 35-mm, black-and-white film. Each HDF5-formatted data file contains an array of 8-bit grayscale values, estimates of the latitude and longitude for each pixel, a grayscale calibration map, and a non-data/data quality mask. Browse images are also available.

For a detailed description of the data see the NmAVCS1H documentation.

To obtain the NmAVCS1H data see the Order Data Web page.

The Nimbus Data Rescue Project was a collaboration between the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) at NASA Ames Research Park, and NSIDC. For more of the project’s history and development see our Monthly Highlights: Glimpses of Sea Ice Past article and the Nimbus Data Rescue Project Web page.