(ORDO NEWS) — Within the framework of the Artemis program, the possibility of creating a digital archive of information accumulated by mankind on the Moon was considered. The lunar archive will have many advantages in comparison with the terrestrial ones.
With the advent of the third decade of the 21st century, the world has become a turbulent and unpredictable place. First, the coronavirus pandemic “relocated” us to virtual spaces, but now they themselves – along with the “real world” – have become an arena of geopolitical confrontation.
Many people and companies store their data – photos, videos and documents – in the cloud, but now they are wondering how to ensure their safety when “nothing lasts forever” on the Internet.
Cyber attacks, physical damage, the machinations of IT corporations, the actions of states seeking to protect their sectors of the Internet – each of these reasons can make data on remote servers inaccessible, or even completely destroy them.
Scientists led by Carson Ezell of Harvard University have proposed a radical solution to protect data from all earthly ups and downs: create a digital archive on the moon. Its implementation will have many advantages over existing terrestrial archives.
Access to the digital lunar archive, oddly enough, technically can be much easier than to the earth.
The path from the user to any global terrestrial data warehouse will inevitably pass through thousands of kilometers of optical fiber and wires, dozens of relay devices, and many state borders.
No matter how reliable the archive itself is, any break in this chain will make it inaccessible. On the contrary, the lunar storage can be contacted directly by laser.
Such a connection is a real p2p connection: only a receiver and a transmitter, nothing more. Its speed can be very high: the laser repeater aboard the LADEE research mission has demonstrated a throughput of 20 megabits per second with a beam power of 500 milliwatts.
At each moment of time, the Moon is in direct line of sight from half of the Earth’s surface (at least from a balloon above the clouds), and everywhere, except for the polar regions, it is above the horizon at least once every 25 hours.
The minimum signal delay is determined by the distance to the Moon and the speed of light and is a little less than three seconds “back and forth” – it will not work to relay video calls through the satellite of our planet. But when restoring data, such a delay is quite acceptable.
Another difficulty is the need for very precise laser pointing. The better it is, the smaller the spot size, which is guaranteed to “cover” the receiver, and the less laser power is needed to create a sufficient signal intensity on it.
At the same time, for focusing and pointing the beam from the Earth to the Moon, an optical system similar to an amateur telescope with a clock drive is sufficient. In the future, lunar laser relays may provide state-of-the-art data rates at a cost comparable to Starlink terminals.
Conditions on the Moon are much more stable than anywhere on Earth. The lunar surface is exposed to radiation from solar flares, and its temperature ranges from minus 170 degrees Celsius at night to plus 130 degrees during the day.
But under the layer of lunar regolith , the temperature becomes constant, and the radiation weakens to the earth’s level.
The tectonic activity on the satellite is vanishingly weak: atmospheric erosion is completely absent, and the regolith well absorbs meteorite impacts.
If you hide the archive to a depth of several meters, it will be possible to find it in physical integrity, in the same place and at approximately the same depth after tens or even hundreds of millions of years.
Repeaters and solar panels (or reactor heat exchangers) will have to be left on the surface, but even with sufficient thoughtful design, they will be able to function longer than any ground-based mechanisms.
Scientists propose archiving critical information the human genome, descriptions of technology, artwork, images and films during the first planned lunar expeditions of the Artemis program and estimate its amount at 10 petabytes.
This seems like a pretty large amount of data, but it can be written to, for example, five kilograms of 512 gigabyte microSD memory cards.
Of course, the archive will require highly reliable media, but with the current recording density, it is really possible to deliver a lot of information to the Moon in just one launch.
The first attempt to send the archive to the Earth’s satellite has already taken place. The Israeli lunar lander Beresheet was launched in 2019 and carried a memory module with a download of Wikipedia, as well as digital books of about 30 million pages. Unfortunately, then the apparatus crashed during landing on the moon.
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