# 1973 Building Tour - What It Took

Video Transcript

## Detailed Description

A tour of the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center near Sioux Falls, SD, circa 1973.

## Details

Date Taken:

Length: 00:06:45

Location Taken: Sioux Falls, SD, US

## Transcript

WEBVTT
Kind: captions
Language: en

So 16 miles north-northeast
of Sioux Falls, South Dakota,

there stands a brand-spanking-new
$5,200,000 building that’s called the Earth Resources Observation Satellite Data Center. It’s also called the Karl E. Mundt Federal Building. Scientists from every corner of the world will cross oceans and drive past miles of corn and grain fields to a building that is designed to run film the invaluable pictures of the Earth and what’s happening to it. Let’s go inside the building and talk to some people who know about it with this idea in mind. And that is that we want to know what’s in it for us. This is John De Noyer, the EROS project director. And Bill Fischer. He’s a senior scientist. Both these gentlemen are out of Washington [audio break]. And Glen Landis, whose title and job here we’ll talk about just a little bit later. John, coming out here, we traveled through all kinds of farm country and over rolling hills, and all the sudden, here was a big water tower and a huge, huge building. Why on Earth did the government ever build this huge facility out here? - The reason is that we wanted to choose where we could receive the radio signals from satellites with Earth resources information on the them over as much of the country as possible. There’s a little region out here in this part of the country where we can do this – in fact, we can see all 48 states from one place from a satellite flying at about 570 miles. The particular reason that we came here is that we needed to be close enough to a city [audio break] this kind of a group, such as Sioux Falls. And we also needed to be far enough away from the city to cut down on interference from electrical signals. - John, I know a lot of people are interested in kind of taking a walking tour through the EROS Center. And I understand you’re the kind of fellow that is – take us on a cook’s tour. - Yes, I’d like Glen Landis to take you on this tour. Glen has been the concept, design, placement – everything of this building, as well as running the data center downtown for almost – a little over a year now. And I think Glen’s the man to really tell you about it. - Okay, Glen. Let’s take a walk - Okay, let’s go for a walk. The potential user comes through here, and this area will ultimately be manned by 10 individuals who will be in a position to answer questions about the data that’s available from the data center. Part of being able to provide an answer is this microfilm viewer, where the individual images can be viewed on microfilm. The microfilm images are stored in these cassettes on 16-millimeter film. They’re placed into the viewer. The frame number which to view is dialed. It automatically scans to the correct frame. And presto, you now can see what the image looks like prior to placing an order with the data center for a reproduction of that image. The data center includes a classroom complex, which is just off the suite of offices for the resident scientists. Classroom complex consists of six divisible rooms that, by moving these partitions into place, we can cut the area into six smaller classrooms for individualized or small-group-type instruction. By folding them back in place and seating people in a quarter-circle, dropping that screen, we can have groups in here of [audio break] 150 people. This is what we refer to as the archives area. It’s where the master reproducible negatives are stored. And on call from the photo lab, they are drawn from the archives and taken across the hall to the photo lab. This is the room in which they don their white smocks – clean clothing. And then go through this part that they normally would have to dwell for 15 seconds inside these with the doors closed and be blown off. Then be able to go into the production lab. The purpose for the air shower is to blow all of the lint off of the clean uniforms so that you have no lint in the air inside this very clean photographic facility. - Glen, these look like space-age capsules. What are they? - They’re what we call pass-throughs. In this particular case, this pass-through is designed to maintain the cleanliness of this area as distinct from the area on the opposite side of the wall. A technician will place film inside this, rotate it 180 degrees, and be able to – someone on the other side be able to take the film out. The film is brought from the pass- throughs in the wall common with the ready access area and placed into the pass-through into the printing area. This particular pass-through is designed to provide cleanliness only. This is designed to provide cleanliness, isolation, as well as light trapping. Because the operation on the opposite side of the wall is a light-critical operation. - What is the operation on the other side of the wall? - This is where the film is exposed – the raw film is exposed to the master reproducible negative. So-called photographic printing operation. One of the features designed into this door is that it does allow exit in the case of a panic situation. Hitting the door, the door will roll out into the hall, and one can get out. - This is the processing area. There are provisions for the installation of nine individual processors. This wall is a removable panel that will be cut out and fitted in a light trap around the processor to separate the dark side of the processor operation from the light. Each processor’s station is serviced by 37 different chemistries that can be plumbed to the individual processor. There are a total of nine automatic processor stations along this wall. The facility is designed to be able to handle several million frames of reproduction per year. Actually, with some increase in staffing, we can very readily go to as much as 20 to 25 million frames per year. The original negatives come from, in general, four different sources. One, we have some 4 million frames of U.S. Geological Survey topographic mapping photography taken from aircraft. These [audio break] 9 inches in size. The second source is from the NASA Earth Resources Aircraft program. And here we’re talking about approximately a million frames of master negatives. The third source is the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, where we’re now, I guess, on the order of 5,000 to 40,000 frames and acquiring a considerable number each day of operation. And the fourth source is from a variety of smaller aircraft-operating programs. All total, we have approximately 6 million frames of master reproducible negatives here. The developed – or, the processed film would be inspected on – at the backend of the processing machines. When it is deemed of acceptable quality, it’s put on the conveyor belt, comes through the air shower, and into this area that we refer to as the dissemination area. Here the individual photographs are re-assembled by order number. When the bin is complete – when the bin has the complete order in it, that order is pulled. It’s put back on the conveyor belt. It comes down to the far end of the conveyor, where it’s pulled off, packaged, and shipped out through the double doors. We have gone to a great effort to maintain cleanroom conditions here because of the fact that the photographic products involve enlargements to high magnifications. And so that any minute speck of dirt on the film looks like a golf ball on the finished product. [rumbling sounds] This is a hydro-mixer for the mixing from dry chemistry of the photographic chemicals to be used in the laboratory. Each of the hydro-mixers sit in such a position with a – with a vent to vent noxious fumes and take them out of the data center. When the chemistry is completely mixed, the pump on the hydro-mixer is connected to these pipes, and the chemistry is pumped upstairs to a tank farm from – we have a gravity feed supply to the processor stations. We’re going into the chemical tank farm area. These 150-gallon tanks hold the individual photo chemistries. And they are supplied by gravity feed out to the individual processor stations. - So by photo chemistries, you’re talking about fixer and … - Developers, bleaches – all the chemistry that’s required to process black-and-white and color film. So, in effect, have a closed-loop chemical system. If you look at it as starting downstairs with dry chemicals, we mix in the hydro-mixer, we pump it up here. Here, it’s stored, gravity fed to the processors, used in the processor to process the film. When it’s exhausted, it goes down into the basement, where it is held in tanks. That exhausted chemistry then, on demand, is pumped back up to the chemical mix area, where it’s analyzed, rejuvenated, pumped back up here, and it starts all over again. [buzzing sounds] Now we’re in the so-called mechanical equipment room. This particular piece of equipment is an emergency power generator with an automatic cut-on. If we get a momentary [audio break] in the electrical supply to the data center, this generator cuts in immediately and will help us save multi-thousand-dollars’ worth of film that are, at that point, going through all the processors. All of the processor units and the emergency lighting system of the data center is hooked to this generator, so that we’ll have no interruption of power to those critical items. I came here [break in audio]. I was born and raised in York, Pennsylvania, in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch country. Educated at Penn State in forestry. Got involved in photogrammetric engineering activities and remote sensing and went to work for the Department of Interior about three years ago. Two years ago, came out here to head the data center operation and get the interim facility going, design this building, and we’ve really enjoyed Sioux Falls. I consider myself a native. - How long are you going to be here? - Forever, I hope. - We thank you very much, Glen. We’re back in the lobby where we began. And we’re back again with Bill Fischer, who is the senior scientist of the EROS project. And I’ve got the$64,000 question for –

or, $160 million question for you, I guess you’d say, Bill. There’s a lot of people around – that are watching this program now, and they have one question, I think, that all of us have. I have it. The farmer has it. What’s in it for me?$160 million, roughly, $170 million has been spent, or will be spent on the EROS project from beginning to end. Obviously, that money has to come from taxpayers – money the taxpayer [inaudible], and he wants to know where his buck went and what he’s going to get back in the way of a return. And that’s the question I’ve got to you. - Well, it’s certainly a logical question and one that has to be answered. I would comment first, this is an experiment. And we’re trying to determine exactly what benefits will accrue to the taxpayer. But some things are pretty clear. Right now, we face an energy crisis. And we’re seeing now results that are showing us that we can, we believe, effectively use the photograph [audio break] improve or search for oil and gas and other sources of energy. Same time, we have to preserve the environment. That’s quite important too. And we are finding, from the photographs, that the environmental parameters can be monitored effectively from space and through this system and this program. - Now, environmental parameters. What do you mean by that? - Well, that’s a long handle. It means the grass is still growing, and the trees are doing all right and the corn fields are ripening. So that we’re really not affecting the atmosphere, nor the water, nor the [audio break] such a way that the ability of the Earth to recycle itself is impaired. But strip mines, for example, are all over the place, and they are kind of a blot on the – on the countryside. And we need some way to make sure we take care of that blot and return it to useful production. Satellite just lets us look at it and monitor it and see how effectively we’re doing this. And anybody can get these pictures to check and see for themselves that really we’re taking care of this land. Another thing that’s happening is [audio break] monospecies agriculture. Now, the corn blight occurred in one species. In Asia, they grow one species of short-stem rice. We tend to grow one species of tree in the west. When you do this, you increase the possibility of a serious blight in any of these major agricultural products. So this is a monitoring system that we see preventing any major catastrophe in the future. Other ways are to preserve the quality of our waters to make sure that our [audio break] control devices are working properly, or at least installed in the right place to make the proper monitoring. Now, you can go through a whole host of these things that have been demonstrated, or you can fall back and say, let’s do it in dollars, which is the question you asked. And there have been a whole host of benefit studies undertaken. If it works, what will happen? What will be the benefit? And there’s a wide range. They range from around$10 billion

a year in total benefits – I think one of
them came up with 300 [audio break]

dollars of year of total benefits.
The thing that has been characteristic

of all of these studies is, every one has
produced a very high benefit figure.

But this is going to take a little while
to nail down and say exactly what

the benefits are. But, in any event,
we’re all confident they’re very large.

- Thank you very much.
And I’d like to thank you, Bill Fischer,

senior scientist here at EROS,
and John De Noyer, who is the director,

and Glen Landis for that fantastic tour
through this maze inside of this building.

And you’ve been here since day one,
pretty much, haven’t you?

- Pretty much since day one.
It’s a great pleasure to me to see what

the people have Sioux Falls have done
in getting together, contributing the land,

and really making this
whole program possible.

My congratulations to you
and the other citizens out here.

- Thank you.

- Let’s talk for just a few minutes,
Mr. De Noyer about the –

oh, let’s call it the political future
of EROS. One satellite is up.

Its life expectancy was programmed
to a year. That year is nearly over.

Now, what about ERTS 2, the second
satellite that’s supposed to go up?

When is that scheduled to go?
- The schedule is now for 1976.

The ERTS 2 satellite has been assembled
so that it could be used in case ERTS 1

did not function. However, ERTS 1
has worked very well, and we

fully expect it to exceed its design life
of a year by quite a few months.

We don’t know how much.
- And now you say 1976

before you’re going to shoot up
ERTS 2, the second satellite.

What happens when ERTS 1 dies up
there and is – ceases to be functional?

- Well, there will no longer be data
of that type until ERTS 2 is launched.

However, we do have a large quantity
of data collected from ERTS 1

that has [audio break] continue
for many years to come.

We also have the Skylab data,
part of which is already available in the

data center. And we expect to get
more from the second and third visit.

- Well, we’ve talked a lot about what’s
on the ground as regard to EROS,

but very little about what’s up in
space doing some of the primary work –

the picture taking. And Lee Farnham
from General Electric is with us.

General Electric, of course,
built the ERTS, it’s called.

What does that stand for?
- ERTS is an acronym for Earth

Resource Technology Satellite.
- Okay. This is ERTS number 1.

Number 2 is still sometime
distant in the future.

But I wonder if you would just
explain what’s on board this ERTS 1,

and how does it work?
- Okay. Well, the ERTS 1,

as we call it, is a relatively small,
unmanned satellite.

It weighs in the neighborhood of
2,000 pounds, which is somewhat less

than a Pinto automobile, by comparison.
It circles the Earth in a north-to-south

direction and goes completely
around the Earth every 103 minutes,

which means it does that 14 times
a day, every day, continuously.

It’s been in orbit for
a little over a year now,

and the spacecraft
is working superbly.

On board the spacecraft, we have solar
arrays, which pick up solar from the sun,

translate that into electrical energy,
which is used to power the spacecraft.

It’s important to realize that the bottom
face of the spacecraft always looks at the

Earth so that the instruments on board
always look directly at the Earth

underneath the spacecraft.
Whereas, the solar array follows

the sun in order to keep power
continuously coming to the vehicle.

All in all, this makes
a very active spacecraft.

Things move around. Instruments
clang and bang against each other.

It makes noise.
It vibrates.

And we’re all tremendously pleased that
it has lasted for a whole year in orbit.

It’s impossible to predict, really,
the exact lifetime of one of these birds.

But we hope that the spacecraft
can go on perhaps for another year,

perhaps another two years, bringing
down the data as it has been doing.

The most important instrument
on board has to be something called

a multispectral scanner, which is
[audio break] produces images

that have been given so much publicity.
- Where is that?

- That’s located on
the bottom of the spacecraft.

And we’d have to literally stand
on our heads to see it here, but it’s

one of these devices which
dangles from the bottom and

faces the Earth and takes images.
- Well, you’ve got number 1 up there.

How about number 2, ERTS 2 –
what’s holding that up?

- ERTS 2 is – as far as the spacecraft is
concerned, is built and put into a cocoon.

The [audio break] has been made
that we shall not launch a second one

as long as this one is
operating in good shape.

- On Tuesday, August 2nd, the new
Karl E. Mundt Federal Building –

the data center was officially dedicated.
From a temporary platform in front of

the building and before a crowd of

and federal dignitaries lauded
the job done and the promises it held

for the future of
man in his environment.

The main address was given by
Secretary of the Interior [audio break].

- We have moved into a
seller’s market from a buyer’s market,

as far as materials are concerned,
minerals are concerned,

energy is concerned,
and land is concerned.

These finite proportions now have to
be managed with great skill.

What is the price of failure?
The price of failure for this civilization

the threat of survival itself.

Let us work together in achieving a
new lifestyle, a new kind of approach

that will guarantee for the generations
that follow us the same opportunities

as we have had guaranteed by the
generations which preceded us.

Thank you very much.

[Applause]

- Veteran Sioux Falls [audio break]
editor and close personal friend of

Karl Mundt, Fred Christopherson
presented a portrait of the senator

that will occupy a prominent place in
the new building named in his honor.

- This building represents

in the progress of mankind.
The purpose reflects and emphasizes

the magnificent goal that has been
the motivating spirit in the many

accomplishments of Karl Mundt in his
long and [audio break] in public service.

EROS is a bold leap across the outer
horizon into the world of tomorrow,

a step taken with practical vision
and deep understanding.

All these men of vision,
such as Karl Mundt,

stimulated by the lesson and the
learning of the past, have been eager

to test the challenge and the
opportunity of uncharted frontiers.

Karl Mundt Historical and Educational
Foundation, the organization I represent

here today, considers it notably proper
that this building be named in Mundt’s

honor and, with pride and pleasure,
presents this portrait of him for

prominent display in the structure.
I present it to President Al Schock of the

Sioux Falls Development Foundation.
- Thank you very much.

- No dedication would
be complete without a ribbon,

a pair of scissors to part it,
and a youngster to do the honors.

In this case, Betty Jane [inaudible]
of Sioux Falls.

So there it is.

The building has been built.
The speeches have been spoken,

the ribbons cut, the bands played,
and the EROS project has moved

from one important milestone,

It’s night now, or very nearly night,
and even as we sleep tonight,

somewhere up there in space,
a satellite is clicking along

on its very important mission.
A mission of helping us to find

new resources for life and helping us

of the place we live on,
giving us the knowledge

to make sure that it doesn’t
continue or happen again.

The late Dr. William Pecora,
the secretary of the Interior,

and a scientist and one of the
many people who were responsible

for seeing this EROS project from its
conception to birth, looked at it this way.

He said, one must look at
the role of man on this Earth.

If he is to survive as a species,
and a thriving species, he does,

in fact, need more resources.
But on the other hand,

Therefore, all of his attention must not

only [audio break] in the sciences and
technology for seeking and developing

Earth resources, but at the same time,
to maintaining a careful balance

with the environment so that his
tradeoffs and value judgments do not

destroy the very environment upon
which he calls for his subsistence.

And that’s what