ShareThis Page
Astrobotic moon mission will preserve Wikipedia in micro ‘Lunar Library’ |

Astrobotic moon mission will preserve Wikipedia in micro ‘Lunar Library’

Aaron Aupperlee
| Tuesday, May 15, 2018 1:03 p.m
Bruce Ha
Astrobotic is sending to the moon a library of microscopic text and images printed on thin nickel sheets about the size of a dime. The sheets could last millions, maybe even billions, of years on the moon’s surface.
A mock up of Astrobotic's Peregrine Lander, which it intends to use for its first mission to the moon in 2019. The Strip District-based space delivery company shot photos of the lander at the LaFarge Duquesne Slag in West Mifflin and edited only the sky to include the Earth in the background.

The history of the War of 1812, a chronicling of the world’s languages and this list of all the characters from the Fast and Furious movies is headed to the moon.

Millions of pages from Wikipedia will be contained in the Lunar Library that Astrobotic will send to the moon’s surface on its maiden launch scheduled for 2020.

The Pittsburgh-based space delivery company teamed up with the Arch Mission Foundation to put the Lunar Library aboard the Peregrine Lunar Lander. The library of microscopic text and images printed on thin nickel sheets about the size of a dime could last millions, maybe even billions, of years on the moon’s surface. The Lunar Library will join the foundation’s Solar Library, which was launched in secret aboard the first flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket in February . The Solar Library will orbit the sun for billions of years and contains Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.

“We can definitely preserve our unique cultural heritage and biological record in a way that will survive for millions to billions of years, and that has not been possible before,” Nova Spivack, cofounder and chair of the Arch Mission Foundation, said in a statement. “We see the Lunar Library as the ultimate in cold storage for human civilization.”

The Lunar Library will consist of the entirety of Wikipedia, the Long Now Foundation’s Rosetta Project and other content that will be announced later this year. The Rosetta Project is a catalogue of the world’s languages stored digitally and printed in tiny, tiny text on a disk that fits in the palm of your hand.

As the launch nears, the Arch Mission Foundation will print the entire English Wikipedia and versions of the online, publicly accessible and edited encyclopedia in other languages. Those printed pages will then be laser-engraved on thin nickel discs with super small text and images. The size of a letter will be 1 micron, about the size of bacteria. An entire page fits within the width of a human hair. About 30 million pages will fit inside a circle about the size of DVD and slightly more than 1 millimeter thick.

But, the text can be read using at least a 1,000x microscope, which the Arch Mission Foundation hopes future societies will have access to.

Nickel can withstand the radiation on the moon and hold up under extreme temperatures.

“It’s humbling to think our mission to the moon will deliver something that could be read millions of years from now.,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in a statement. “Arch’s Lunar Library will be a monument not only to human knowledge and culture, but also the first commercial mission to the Moon.”

Astrobotic is based in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Aaron at 412-320-7986, or via Twitter .

Categories: Technology
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.