For those who hadn’t heard, NASA is gearing up to build a permanent moonbase in the next decade or so — if it can find the right legacy hard drive expert to save their bacon. Seriously.
Here’s how it breaks down: NASA learned the hard way during Apollo that moon dust is insanely abrasive, sort of like aerosol sandpaper. Learning how to deal with moon dust is going to be a serious issue for moonbase planners. Fortunately, NASA accrued all kinds of moon dust data during the 1970s.
Unfortunately, NASA “misplaced” all its moon dust data tapes, mostly because it never thought they’d come in handy. Since NASA lost the originals — and thus never translated the moon dust data to modern media — and all it has left are backups of the original data tapes, which can only be read by a vintage IBM 729 mark 5 tape drive. For those scoring at home, IBM stopped making the 729 in the 1960s. Thankfully, an Australian computer museum had one on mothballs, but it isn’t functional.
Thus, if any of you old-school tech heads has the kung fu to get a 40 years out-of-date tape drive running, NASA has a job for you. It’s sort of like the plot of Space Cowboys, only nerdier. And they say old IT guys have nothing to contribute.