February 23, 2020

How Israel Brought Life to the Moon

“In April, the lunar lander Beresheet — a privately funded Israeli project — crashed on the moon. The mission originally started as a contender for the Google Lunar X prize, a contest to land a privately made robot on the moon before a 2018 deadline. As The Verge’s Loren Grush explains, it wasn’t a very robust scientific mission: It had planned to run some simple tests on the moon’s magnetism. The mission was more a proof of concept that ambitious space exploration can take place outside of big government programs.

Sadly, the craft crash-landed due to a computer error.

But a part of the mission lives on. A group called the Arch Mission Foundation had installed a library of sorts on the craft, and they tell Wired, they believe it may have survived. Arch Mission has the goal of “maintaining a backup of planet Earth,” and wanted a store of information on the moon “to preserve the records of our civilization for up to billions of years.” In the future, after our extinction, if aliens were to land on the moon and find the archive, they could learn about us (and presumably feel sorry we’re no longer around).

Tardigrades — the microscopic, oddly cute toughest animals on Earth — explained
The “library” was etched on to a nickel-metal disc, and it contained nearly all of English Wikipedia, copies of classic books, human blood samples, and tardigrades (because if anything alive on Earth is going to last billions of years, it’s them). Many of those tardigrades are coated in a protective resin, much like how amber preserves long-dead mosquitos that were once trapped in tree sap.

According to Wired, a co-creator of the library believes the disc survived the crash. “In the best-case scenario, Beresheet ejected the Arch Mission Foundation’s lunar library during impact and it lies in one piece somewhere near the crash site,” Wired reports.”

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