Preserving astronomy's photographic legacy

More than 3 million glass-plate photographs of star fields, other astronomical phenomena are housed in North American Institutions And they are slowly decaying.

Mapping the Universe through photographs: The effort isn't new, it began about 130 years ago and in 2009 was re-energized through a project to preserve  a century's worth astronomy's photographic history. Recently, EMC brought the project to light, highlighting the continued improvement in big data techniques that keep the project moving along.

In a 2009, a paper called "Preserving Astronomy's Photographic Legacy: Current State and Future of North American Astronomical Plates," Wayne Osborn, department of physics at Central Michigan University, and Lee Robbins, department of astronomy at the University of Toronto, took up the effort to preserve more than three million photographs of star fields housed in North American Institutions.

The goal was not only to preserve them but to use them for study, a task made easier by today's big data technology.

These photographs have already contributed to astronomical research that has resolved ambiguities in measuring the mass of objects to determining galactic orbits and identifying gamma ray bursts.

Researchers are working with EMC to preserve the data from these plates before they further decay.

For more up-to-date information:
- see EMC's YouTube video

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