Speech recognition technology used to analyze Apollo mission tapes
NewAtlas.com reports that there was a lot more said during the Apollo 11 missions besides “the Eagle has landed” and “that’s one step for man.” To help preserve and make accessible the thousands of hours of recorded mission audio, a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas used speech recognition technology to unscramble and analyze the conversations between astronauts, mission control, and technicians across a quarter of a million miles of space.
Sometimes a technological advance can be a curse – especially if technology keeps galloping ahead at a breakneck pace. The analog audio tape technology available in the late 1960s must have seemed like a blessing at the time. The Apollo 11 mission was probably the biggest story since a curious fish decided to set foot on land 380 million years ago, but unlike that development, the first Moon landing could be recorded in more detail and more comprehensively than any other great event in history up to that time.
The curse was that it could be recorded in more detail and more comprehensively than any other great event in history up to that time. The sample used by the University of Texas project alone included audio from the Apollo 11, most of the Apollo 13, Apollo 1, and Gemini 8 missions and this partial collection comprised of 200 14-hour, 30-track analog tapes. That is a lot of audio to archive, never mind analyze and make available to future scholars.