Van Allen Data Tapes: Preservation and Digitization

The UI Libraries has been awarded $200,000 from the Carver Trust to digitize the data tapes from the Explorer I satellite mission that led to the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts. These tapes were recovered from the basement of Maclean Hall through the outstanding efforts of our Preservation Dept. in 2010-2011. During that time, tapes containing the original data from Explorer I, III, IV, and a few subsequent satellites, were cleaned and transferred to the Van Allen collection here in the University Archives. We will be using the funds from the Carver Trust to digitize the data from the Explorer I tapes and make it freely accessible online in its original raw format, to allow researchers or any interested parties to download the full data set. This resource will be complemented by an immersive online site containing material from the Van Allen archive that provides historical context and interpretation for the interested general public. This material includes scans of memos, planning documents, diagrams, correspondence, and diary entries, along with photographs, video, and audio items. The site will tell the story of James Van Allen’s work and the Explorer I mission in an interactive manner, and will also provide curriculum that will harness these unique historical and scientific resources to engage a new generation of students with the possibilities of scientific discovery.

For more information on NASA’s recent announcements relating to renaming efforts honoring James Van Allen see the November 12th article in “Iowa Now” and the announcement from NASA.

(Original post by Colleen Theisen on November 27, 2012)