Viewing moon images from 1966 with IIPImage


I happened to read article on how earliest images of the moon were better than people realised. That made me curious about the images and I found that they are available on NASA PDS Imaging Node The images are in raw 16bit integer format and need to be converted into something that a modern computer can understand like .png. I’m certain those images are already out there in a viewable format, but I saw it as an opportunity to practice. (Also if you move few directories up to the ‘EXTRAS’ folder, you’ll find reduced resolution .png images there)

For the practice exercise I decided that I want them in full quality on my homepage. Quick search lead me to the perfect tools for the job: IIPImage server and IIPMooViewer.

First I needed to get the IIPImage server running. Luckily there is already a package for debian based systems.

sudo apt-get install iipimage-server
I’m using Nginx as my web server so the next thing I needed to do was to configure the IIPImage FastCGI module for Nginx. IIPImage github page has and example how to configure it:
    # This goes to /etc/nginx/sites-avaiable/default (or wherever your nginx config file is)
    location /fcgi-bin/iipsrv.fcgi {
        fastcgi_pass    localhost:9000;
        fastcgi_param   PATH_INFO $fastcgi_script_name;
        fastcgi_param   REQUEST_METHOD $request_method;
        fastcgi_param   QUERY_STRING $query_string;
        fastcgi_param   CONTENT_TYPE $content_type;
        fastcgi_param   CONTENT_LENGTH $content_length;
        fastcgi_param   SERVER_PROTOCOL $server_protocol;
        fastcgi_param   REQUEST_URI $request_uri;
        fastcgi_param   HTTPS $https if_not_empty;
The FastCGI server itself was installed into /usr/lib/iipimage-server/iipsrv.fcgi in my case. You can always read the manpage if you need more information about it
man iipsrv
For now I decided to run it manually, but see their github page for more automated options. I used the FILESYSTEM_PREFIX environment variable to set the location of my image files.
cd /usr/lib/iipimage-server
# replace with your own path
env FILESYSTEM_PREFIX=/path/to/images ./iipsrv.fcgi --bind localhost:9000

Now that the server is running we’re gonna need a client to view images. For that I’m gonna use IIPMooViewer.

For a quick and dirty solution we can clone it to wherever our nginx webpages are stored, /var/www/html by default.

cd /var/www/html
git clone iip
Now the viewer should be at (or localhost/iip). To verify we got everything working so far, we need an image to test with. If you need an example image or want to know how to create them go here. Copy the image to the folder you used for FILESYSTEM_PREFIX earlier. I’ll assume it’s called image.tif. As the final thing we need to fix the file name in /var/www/html/iip/index.html
    // The *full* image path on the server. This path does *not* need to be in the web
    // server root directory. On Windows, use Unix style forward slash paths without
    // the "c:" prefix
    var image = '/image.tif';
Done! Now the image should be on the web page at /iip/index.html

Finally I needed to get and convert all the images from page i mentioned at the beginning. There is no “download all” button on the page, so we have to use something like wget command.

This first step is probably unneccesary, but I figured it would reduce the amount of pages wget has to crawl through. So I got the list of all directories I wanted to download .IMG files from.

# download file -> grep FRAME_XXXX -> remove duplicates -> prefix with rest of URL and write to directories.txt
wget -q -O- | egrep -o "FRAME_[0-9]{4}" | sort -u | sed -r -e "s/(.*)/https:\/\/pds-imaging\.jpl\.nasa\.gov\/data\/lo\/LO_1001\/DATA\/LO1\/\1/g" > directories.txt
Now we use xargs to run wget on all the directories and download the .IMG files.
cat directories.txt | xargs -L1 wget -r -np -l 1 -A IMG
For me this took about 3 days and it was maybe about 100GB of data. It’s probably bandwidth limited or the link to Europe is just that slow. Only thing that’s left to do is to convert the files into pyramidal TIFF files. I wrote a C program to first convert the .IMG files to .bmp and then used vips command to convert them to TIFF files. I’m sure there is some kind of tool/command that can do it, but this seemed like fast enough for me. Here’s the C program: convert.c and stb_image_write.h And the commands to convert all files:
chmod +x ./convert.c
find . -name *.IMG | sed -r -e "s/(.*)\.IMG/\.\/convert.out 16500 \1\.IMG\necho Creating \1\.tif\nvips im_vips2tiff \1\.bmp \1\.tif:jpeg:50,tile:256x256,pyramid\necho Deleting intermediate file \1\.bmp\nrm \1\.bmp/g" >
chmod +x
Open if you want more readable version of what’s happening, I used sed and regex to generate bash file which makes this hard to read. I couldn’t use pipes all the way because that would have required some extra effort in the C program. You can edit the output image properties by changing the vips command, I was using 50% quality jpeg and 256 pixel tiles.

That should convert all the .IMG files to .tif, then you need to move them into the directory where we had image.tif earlier. The .tif files should be about 20x smaller than the raw .IMG files. IIPMooViewer also has an example for gallery.html, that’s what I ended up using. I also had to add “server”: “/fcgi-bin/iipsrv.fcgi” to the image properties (for every image) in gallery.html.

Here it is:

Something I want to do in the future is to have a 3D view and map the images to a sphere. All the images also have labels about where the shots were taken. This could potentially be enough information to project the images to a sphere. That would be much harder than what has been achieved so far, but it should be possible. I would definitely have to write my own IIPImage client, but I’m not even sure if that’s going to be enough.

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