This is the strangest paragraph I’ve read in a while:
“But during the 1980s, [NASA] lost much of its old high-quality data. Its early tracking stations recorded satellite data on high-resolution master tapes that used whale oil to bind iron particles to the acetate. The whale oil made the tapes far more durable, but when commercial whaling was phased out in the mid-1980s, NASA couldn’t get such long-lasting tapes. So it reused old ones. NASA engineers taped over some 200,000 previously recorded master tapes, including high-resolution records from spacecraft as diverse as early Landsat satellites and Apollo 11, and preserved only low-resolution copies.” (source)
I checked to make sure it wasn’t the April 1st issue of Science. The entire article is weird, including the fact that researchers are working out of an abandoned McDonald’s.
Just another reason to start hunting those smug whales again.