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Analyzing Audio Data From the Apollo 11 Mission

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

The objective of the Apollo 11 mission was to land a crew of astronauts on the moon and then return to Earth. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy proposed this mission, and then in 1969, Apollo 11 was launched from Cape Kennedy. After about 75 hours after launch, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit. After the Eagle, the lunar module of the Apollo 11, detached from the Columbia, the command module, it began the descent onto the moon's surface. At about 109 hours and 42 minutes, Neil Armstrong stepped foot onto the moon. Buzz Aldrin stepped out about 20 minutes after him. After doing a variety of tasks upon the moon’s surface including placing medallions, evaluating lunar surface samples, and deploying the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments package (all totaling about 21 hours upon the surface of the moon), the Apollo 11 began its descent back to Earth. 44 hours after departing lunar orbit, it reentered into Earth’s atmosphere, and 195 hours 13 minutes after launch, it arrived back on Earth, landing in the Pacific Ocean.

What is Fearless Steps?

Fearless Steps is an activity that contributes to the evaluation and digitization of analog audio data from the Apollo 11 mission. There are about 19,000 hours of this audio data which contain noise and distortions found only in communications in space. Citizen scientists can participate by listening to and evaluating the audio clips. Fearless Steps was discussed in the 2nd Workshop on Novel Incentives in Data Collection from People that took place at the 2022 International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation and at the Interspeech Conference in 2021. This project uses citizen science to elicit data from participants all over the globe.

Participation in Fearless Steps

The Fearless Steps project has different level tasks that ask participants to listen to audio clips from NASA Apollo missions and to evaluate or transcribe the audio.

"Speaker Count", an activity within the Fearless Steps project, plays audio clips and asks the participant to note the number of speakers and to answer if the speech overlaps at any point. The participants are given a selection of answer choices relating to the above categories. Additionally, participants are asked to rate the quality of the audio in the clip. Below are examples of answers participants choose from to complete this activity.

This project was designed so that large hours of audio from the Apollo 11 mission could be analyzed. Citizen science participation was necessary for this task, because even with the advancement of technology in the modern world, speech recognition from these space communication audio clips full of noise and distortions is extremely difficult. Human beings are better able to analyze and make judgments about these kinds of audio recordings. Thanks to contributions from citizen scientists, more can be understood about the Apollo 11 data, and more research can take place in the future. There are future plans to create tasks within the Fearless Steps project that include audio data from the Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 missions.

Find LanguageARC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, or heard directly to the LanguageARC website to contribute. Look forward to more blog updates in the future.



Loff, S. (2015, April 17). Apollo 11 Mission Overview. NASA.

Joglekar, A., Sadjadi, S. O., Chandra-Shekar, M., Cieri, C., & Hansen, J. H. L. Fearless

Steps Challenge Phase-3 (FSC P3): Advancing SLT for unseen ... LDC.

Fiumara, J., Cieri, C., Liberman, M., Callison-Burch, C., Wright, J., & Parker, R. The

Nieuw Project: Developing Language Resources through novel incentives. LDC.

Cieri, C. (n.d.). Novel Incentives in Language Resource Development. LDC.

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