A 2020 lunar mission is set to carry a fascinating payload: a copy of Wikipedia and a library of all recorded human language.
The project, called the Lunar Library, is the work of the Arch Mission Foundation, which creates curated long-term archives housed in devices called Arch Libraries (pronounced "Arks," in the Indiana Jones sense).
The Lunar Library will also contain other as-yet unannounced materials. (The Arch Mission is wisely stringing out the announcements to stay in the news between now and launch.) The collection will touch down aboard commercial space company Astrobotic's lunar lander.
"We're thrilled the Arch Mission Foundation has selected Astrobotic," said John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic. "It's humbling to think our mission to the Moon will deliver something that could be read millions of years from now. Arch's Lunar Library will be a monument not only to human knowledge and culture, but also the first commercial mission to the Moon."
Comprising millions of pages of text and images, the Lunar Library will be stored as analog microfiche on thin sheets of nickel. Using nanolithography, each page is etched by laser at 300,000 dpi.
The resulting text can be read via a 1000x magnification optical microscope.
Astrobotic, which is a high tech freight carrier, bills itself as a "lunar logistics company that delivers payloads to the Moon." It is currently booking space freight services for companies, governments, universities, non-profits, and individuals, selling payload space on its Peregrine spacecraft for $1.2 million per kilogram.
"The Arch Mission Foundation has conducted extensive technical diligence in order to select Astrobotic for this lunar mission," said Arch Mission co-founder Nick Slavin. "We're impressed with Astrobotic's readiness for repeatable lunar missions."
Earlier this year, the Arch Mission launched a Solar Library aboard SpaceX's first Falcon Heavy flight. The Solar Library features Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, which is currently orbiting the sun.
"Through massive replication around the solar system we will be able to guarantee that the Arch Libraries will never be lost, even millions to billions of years in the future," said Nova Spivack, co-founder and Chairman of the Arch Mission Foundation.
"We see the Lunar Library as the ultimate in cold storage for human civilization."