MemberConnection Blog

22 June 2018

Arch Mission Foundation Puts a Library on the Moon

The Arch Mission Foundation, a non-profit focused on preserving humanity’s knowledge, will partner with Astrobotic to launch a historic Lunar Library. Key components of the library will include art, philosophy, literature, the entirety of Wikipedia, The Long Now Foundation’s Rosetta Project, and a digital library of human languages. Astrobotic, a company focused on space robotic technology, has a lunar lander headed to space in 2020, and the Arch Mission Foundation’s library will be on it.

The contents of the Lunar Library are stored in something called microfiche, which is a flat piece of film. The microfiche is rolled onto thin sheets of nickel, where it’s then etched by a laser. The contents of the library can then be read through a microscope, and no computer is needed. The nickel is expected to last for millions or billions of years in space; thus, the Lunar Library may be the last remaining fragment of our civilization to survive, which is why its preservation is so crucial.

The Lunar Library is just the first step for the Arch Mission Foundation. AMF hopes to set the stage for a decentralized, local data delivery network for each planet. AMF plans to install a ring of Arch Libraries around the Sun, the surface of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, space stations, and more. The archs (pronounced “Arks”) are made of optical crystals, and they can hold up to 360 terabytes of data. All archs will contain a map that shows the location of other archs in the universe.

The network of archs will eventually be connected, and the data that each arch contains will be shared on the network. This connection will span between planets in the solar system, allowing for humans to access the entirety of our history, as well as the information that humans may learn on their respective planets. The archs will ideally contain all knowledge in a galaxy-spanning civilization. The collection of libraries will work together to ensure that our history is never forgotten.

The Arch Mission Foundation draws several concepts into question: namely, how is technology changing the world that we live in? What is the significance behind the salvation of literature? The preservation of the written word via technology is particularly paradoxical and fascinating, especially since books on the internet have long been pitted against brick-and-mortar bookstores. For example, according to a study conducted by the New York Times, Amazon is slowly but surely crushing its brick-and-mortar competition, Barnes & Noble. Since Amazon isn’t opposed to losing a profit on their books to gain long-term customers, Barnes & Noble has been unable to keep up. And it isn’t just Amazon vs. Barnes & Noble. Bookstore preservation has been an issue since the dawn of the eBook and the rise of online shopping. So, the idea of using technology to save the very thing it has seemingly driven into extinction is ironic, but apt.  

We’ve reached a point in this century where organizations are planning for a future on different planets. None of this would be possible without the technology that has taken us to this point. Although the idea of an insurance policy for the dissolution of the earth is a radical one, it’s fascinating to think of how far technology has carried us.

The first moon landing was almost exactly 49 years ago, on July 16, 1969. Who would have thought that, half of a century later, some associations would be planning for life on the moon itself? Technology has truly become a force of nature, making anything possible. Non-profits, foundations, and associations all over the world are driving change, innovation, and progress. The sky is no longer the limit.