Between its water-laden surface and Watney doing his thing on the big screen, The Red Planet has gotten a lot of attention lately. But it’s arguable that we never would have made it to Mars had we not first reached for the moon. At the height of the space race, the moon was our holy grail, a symbol of human kind’s insatiable thirst for discovery. The images beamed down from the various Apollo missions inspired millions, and generated an immense amount of support for exploration. Now, thanks to a team of serious space aficionados, you can download over 8,400 of them in brilliant high resolution.
So long, productivity.
The Project Apollo Archive (PAA) has been in the works since 1999, but this latest batch of photos is something special. “In 2004, the Johnson Space Center began re-scanning the original Apollo Hasselblad camera film magazines,” creator Kipp Teague told The Planetary Society. The initial idea was to color-correct, process, and scale-down the scans, but because so many people asked about the originals, they decided to upload each one. What you’re seeing here are the unedited images, as they were shot some 50 years ago.
The set includes every photo taken by astronauts on the moon’s alien surface, as well as hundreds from Earth orbit, lunar orbit, and the immense journey between them. The images aren’t perfect, but that somehow makes them all the more endearing. Scrolling through the albums is like taking a 240,000 mile road trip with some of NASA’s most iconic astronauts – blurry, smiling faces and all.
Only 24 people in human history have seen the full disk of the Earth with their own eyes. These photographs are about as close as you can get to standing in their shoes. “Many like myself owe their choice of technical, scientific, and engineering careers at least partly to the inspiration of Apollo,” says Teague. “More importantly, it was with Apollo that our 300,000-year-old species at long last broke the bonds of the Earth and took its first ‘giant leap’ into the Universe.”
Check out more Apollo photos in the gallery below. To view the complete set in high resolution, head to the Flickr album.