The Lunar Library: Genesis (SpaceIL, 2019)

The first library on another celestial body.


The Arch Lunar Library™ represents the first in a series of lunar archives from the Arch Mission Foundation, designed to preserve the records of our civilization for up to billions of years. It is installed in the SpaceIL “Beresheet” lunar lander, which crashed on the Moon in April of 2019.

Currently it is believed that the Lunar Library survived the crash of Beresheet and is intact on the Moon according to our team of scientific advisors based on imagery data provided by NASA’s LRO.

The Lunar Library contains a 30 million page archive of human history and civilization, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods.

The Library is housed within a 100 gram nanotechnology device that resembles a 120mm DVD. However it is actually composed of 25 nickel discs, each only 40 microns thick, that were made for the Arch Mission Foundation by NanoArchival.

The first four layers contain more than 60,000 analog images of pages of books, photographs, illustrations, and documents - etched as 150 to 200 dpi, at increasing levels of magnification, by optical nanolithography.

The first analog layer is the Front Cover and is visible to the naked eye. It contains 1500 pages of text and images, as well as holographic diffractive logos and text, and can be easily read with a 100X magnification optical microscope, or even a lower power magnifying glass.

The next three analog layers each contain 20,000 images of pages of text and photos at 1000X magnification, and require a slightly more powerful microscope to read. Each letter on these layers is the size of a bacillus bacterium.

Also in the analog layers of the Library is a specially designed “Primer” that teaches over a million concepts in pictures and corresponding words across major languages, as well as the content of the Wearable Rosetta disc, from the Long Now Foundation, which teaches the linguistics of thousands of languages.

Following the Primer, are a series of documents that teach the technical specifications, file formats, and scientific and engineering knowledge necessary to access, decode and understand, the digital information encoded in deeper layers of the Library.

Also in the analog layers, are several private archives, including an Israeli time-capsule for SpaceIL, containing the culture and history of Israel, songs, and drawings by children.

Beneath the analog layers of the Library are 21 layers of 40 micron thick nickel foils, each containing a DVD master.

Collectively, the digital layers contain more than 100GB of highly compressed datasets, which decompress to nearly 200GB of content, including the text and XML of the English Wikipedia, plus tens of thousands of PDFs of books — including fiction, non-fiction, a full reference library, textbooks, technical and scientific handbooks, and more.

The digital layers also contain the PanLex datasets from the Long Now Foundation, a linguistic key to 5000 languages, with 1.5 billion translations between them.

All the necessary specifications for extracting the file formats and content within the digital layers are provided in the analog layers above.

But this is only the beginning of the story - there is in fact much more in the Lunar Library. This will be revealed in coming months and years.

The Lunar Library is the third installment in The Arch Mission Foundation’s Billion Year Archive™ initiative, which includes backups humanity, delivered to many locations around Earth and other locations in the Solar System. By delivering many copies to many places, and updating them with new installments on an ongoing basis, we intend to gradually pepper the solar system with the records of our civilization.

The more Arch™ Libraries we deliver into the Billion Year Archive, and more places we store them, the more likely it is that at least some of them will survive for billions of years into the future, when they may eventually be found by those who come after us.

For a detailed description of the Lunar Library, including content and specifications, see this white paper in PDF format.