1973 Building Tour - What It Took

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Detailed Description

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


Date Taken:

Length: 00:06:45

Location Taken: Sioux Falls, SD, US


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

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
about 1,000, local county, state,

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

[audio break] downhill, degradation,
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.


- 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
a broad forward thrust

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.

[applause and inaudible comments]

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,
and already has begun one.

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
rebuild the mess we’ve made

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,

he must adopt good housekeeping.
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
EROS is really all about.

[Bart Call], goodnight.