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Mission will put Wikipedia and more on the moon

Lunar Library
The Lunar Library will be stored as microfiche images etched on stamp-sized squares of nickel. A dime is set among the squares to provide a sense of scale. (Arch Mission Foundation Photo)

The Arch Mission Foundation is partnering with Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic to have a miniaturized library sent to the moon’s surface aboard a lunar lander in 2020.

The Lunar Library will include a wide range of works — including the contents of Wikipedia and the Long Now Foundation’s Rosetta Project, a library of the world’s languages. The text will be printed on 20-micron-thick, stamp-sized sheets of nickel, using a laser etching technique that can produce letters as small as bacteria. (You’d need a 1000x optical microscope to read the pages, but you wouldn’t need a computer.)

“We’re thrilled the Arch Mission Foundation has selected Astrobotic. 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 today in a news release. “Arch’s Lunar Library will be a monument not only to human knowledge and culture, but also the first commercial mission to the moon.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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