An October 2013 article in SpaceRef.com The New Race for the Moon says:

"NASA's policy is to make data publicly available. I think that is a very noble policy. I do not see anything wrong with it," said says Dr. Richard R. Vondrak, Deputy Director of the NASA Solar System Exploration Division and LRO Deputy Project Scientist.

"Some people may say that we should restrict the data, but frankly that's not the way NASA operates. The goal here is to do more than just supply NASA people. The goal here is to understand the Moon and the Earth Moon system," Vondrak told SpaceRef. "The more researchers who are using the LRO data the more progress we are make toward understanding the moon as our nearest neighbor in space," he said.

"China has not requested any LRO observations for site selection for the Chang'e 3 lander, and we are not assisting them in any way. All LRO data is available to anyone through the Planetary Data System, but I don't know how much of it China has downloaded," said Vondrak.

"The LRO data set includes Narrow Angle Camera observations of Sinus Iridum that generally have a resolution of 19.6 in. /pixel (50 cm/pixel).

But then continues:

Although LRO data remains unrestricted there is other evidence that NASA is worried about such data transfer to China.

NASA recently removed at least four major photographic atlases of the Moon from the NASA Technical Reports Server. The large volumes document the thousands of images taken by Boeing Lunar Orbiter spacecraft in the 1960s to map the Moon at close range to find Apollo landing sites and to gain a better understanding of the body.

Question: Is it true that NASA removed four major photographic atlases of the Moon from its Technical Report Server? If so, was this done in such a way that they are no longer available publicly, or was this just part of a reshuffling of resource web sites that happens from time to time?


1 Answer 1


The question, 'Did they remove 4 atlases?' can only be answered by an insider. NTRS does not show documents that have been removed.

However, a search for '"Lunar Orbiter" atlas' shows lots of results including "Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon" - a 500 Mb PDF with loads of photos. So they didn't systematically remove Lunar Orbiter results.

The Planetary Data System shows 2991 Lunar Orbiter photos. Removing data from NTRS but leaving it up at PDS is another indication that this is not an attempt to make information unavailable.

It gets better: the much higher-quality Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images (750,000 of them) are also available at the PDS.


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