The Lunar Archives

One of the key objectives of Lunar Mission One is to create an epic record of life on Earth. This project provides us with a unique and exciting opportunity to put together a comprehensive statement of our existence, in the form of an extensive informational archive, the ultimate time capsule to be discovered long into the future.

Over the next 10 years, Lunar Mission One will collect information and data to create two ambitious archives: a public archive, the record of life on Earth, and a private archive, which will hold individuals personal data. These records will then be placed deep inside the borehole as part of the mission, ensuring a lasting legacy of our life on Earth.

Read more about the archives here:

  • Public Archive Open or Close

    Public Archive

    The public archive will contain a publically assembled and authoritative digital record of life on Earth. It will cover the history of humankind and our civilisation to date, together with a species database that describes the Earth's known biodiversity and how it all fits together – from animals and plants to bacteria, from geology to atmosphere.

    We want to create a truly global database and will collect information from across the world. There are several existing databases that can be merged by professionals, from the humanities to the life sciences, and they can be added to by the public and so record local information from anywhere. By establishing an editorial board with representation from across the globe, we can ensure that all information included in the archive is accurate, representative and of a high standard.

    Our motivation behind the archive is as much in its creation as in the finalised records. We will be working with schools and educational institutions to use the public archive as an opportunity to promote understanding and engagement with science, technology, humanities and engineering. Through contribution to the archives there is a fantastic opportunity to advance knowledge around the world.

    The archive’s technology needs to be researched and developed as the project is set up, from the way data records should be defined to the hardware it is to be stored on, from the sourcing of data to the network security of its compilation. We expect a mix of professional expertise and public engagement for all of this too. The archive’s digital capacity depends on its technology, but from the borehole volume available we can confidently expect tens of Terabytes of storage.

    This archive will be available online both during development and after the mission has been accomplished. We will have laid the groundwork for future generations to develop and maintain this hugely valuable research and educational tool. Publically owned and accessible to all, this archive is a hugely ambitious plan that could only be resourced by a project of this scale.

  • Private Archive Open or Close

    Private Archive

    The Private Archive presents the basis for funding the whole project and its space mission. By paying to include information about yourself, your family, your friends or your community, everyone around the World who wants to can participate in the mission and to help its objectives.

    It will consist of information about anything you decide to digitally upload, such as a simple message, a photo, video or a family tree or story. The cost will depend on how much information you wish to store. The private archive will use the same technology as the public archive, and in effect be an extension to it. We expect to hold millions of these individual digital ‘memory boxes’.

    You can also include your DNA code, captured and stored as a single strand of hair. The hair consists of destroyed biological cells, and their DNA molecules are broken up into many segments. But they are preserved by a chemical called Keratin, and it is possible to electronically read the DNA segments and resequence the code by computer. So the hair is just another form of storage, and the DNA code it records is part of your description, as the biological definition of your existence.

    Those who have a digital record of their DNA can include it in the private archive if they wish. But hair is easier and cheaper to collect, contains the complete DNA record, avoids any fear of unauthorised copying and use, and is cheaper to store.

    The strands of hair can be linked to the digital information you upload. They will also be individually packed, with a webcam so you can see it happen.

    Hair is very small and a thousand strands weigh a quarter of a gram. We expect about ten million people will chose this option. That amount takes up two litres of volume and weighs two kilograms – about the same as a bag of flour.

    By becoming a supporter in future you will be able to reserve your place in space. You will be able to upload anything you want into your digital memory box or send in your strand of hair. When we launch, all of this information will already be inside the time capsule ready to be placed inside the Moon.

  • How will the archive survive? Open or Close

    How will the Archive survive?

    The natural conditions down the borehole are excellent for preservation, without requiring any ongoing servicing or maintenance:

    • It is very cold, potentially around -150ᴼc.
    • It is a complete vacuum, without even stray particles found in outer space.
    • It is dry with no liquids or gases, so no means of transporting matter or contamination.
    • It is chemically inactive and geologically stable with no tectonic plate movements.
    • It is protected by tens of meters of rock, against:
      • radiation, such as gamma rays from the centre of the galaxy;
      • elemental particles from the Sun;
      • micrometeorites that constantly bombard the lunar surface;
      • larger meteorites – only a large asteroid could destroy the archive, and the probability of it being large enough, fast enough and close enough is low enough to make it an exceptionally rare event.
    • Moonquakes measured from the Apollo era are small.
    • The Moon’s magnetic field is less than 1% of the Earth’s.
    • We anticipate a small amount of background radiation from the surrounding lunar rock that can be protected against.



    By exploiting the extraordinary preservation qualities of the location, we can expect a good chance that what we place down the borehole can survive a billion years – a geological timescale – a timescale of life on Earth itself. The decisive limiting factor is the expansion of the Sun that will eventually destroy the Earth and its Moon in billions of years’ time.



  • What is the impact on the Moon? Open or Close

    What is the Impact on the Moon?

    The scope and ambition of the archives are grand, but the impact on the Moon will be negligible. The diameter of the hole into which we place the archive will be no wider than your smartphone screen.

    Our archive has its own very high contamination requirements. Using the latest technology, the archive will be shielded to help its billion year longevity – ensuring that nothing, neither material nor energy, enters or leaves the canisters. Within our team Lunar Mission One has world leading authorities from the astrobiology and lunar science communities. A full description of its protection measures will be available on this site in the future.

    Lunar Mission One is all about preservation and scientific understanding. Moving forwards we will ensure that this remains a core value of the mission.

    For anyone who may be concerned about biological contamination, the official policy (from the International COSPAR Planetary Protection Panel) is that, unlike Mars and other bodies with the potential for life, the Earth’s Moon is low priority with no real prospect of biological reactions. The convention is that Lunar Mission One requires “Simple documentation and reporting only”.

  • What are the Bioethics? Open or Close

    What are the Bioethics?

    The potential for future recovery of life from the archive’s contents is a key part of the project’s education potential, inviting people to investigate fundamental questions about what life is.

    Currently it is not possible to actually create a body from DNA, as scientists lack both the knowledge and the technology to do so. It is also the case that the hair shaft is biochemically inactive, its cells are dead and the DNA is broken up into fragments, so there can be no cloning or re-use of bio material. However, a hypothetical bodily construction, derived from digital copying and resequencing the data fragments together, would create a different individual who looks identical.

    There will be no intent to use this DNA code within foreseeable human existence. In addition, stored deep below the Moon’s surface, it is much more secure than terrestrial bio-banks and is protected by existing space conventions. It is important to remember that currently the human genome is itself, as data, public information and is therefore much more available for abuse.

    The idea of storing DNA code in this case appears not to contradict religion – for either scripture or doctrine – nor does it contradict official bioethics regulations (the Human Tissue Authority) that apply to the “storage and use of live tissue for purposes such as research, patient treatment, post-mortem examination, teaching and public exhibitions”.

    Within our team Lunar Mission One has world leading authorities from the bioethics community. There will be a full description of the implications of storing DNA code in hair on the Internet, publicising the project’s archival intent and ethics, and so enabling customer awareness and consent.

  • The Big Picture Open or Close

    The Big Picture

    By David Iron, Founder of Lunar Mission One.



    Although the project is grounded in serious science and practical technology, its archive stimulates the imagination like few other things do. No one knows what will happen in the future, especially so far ahead in time. There are simply too many unknowns. Our predictions can only be speculative. It is more a matter for fiction, or even faith.

    Nevertheless, we do know enough about the laws of nature to provide a rational approach to predicting the future as a basis for imagining it. This approach considers the Big Picture questions of Lunar Mission One: How long will the archive survive? Will it be discovered? Can it be recovered? And what does it mean for us now?



    There are several reasons why the lunar borehole that we create is an extraordinary place for preservation – it is very cold, a vacuum, protected, inert and stable.  See the Lunar Archives for more information.

    The archive has the potential to survive, untouched, for a billion years. Ultimately of course, we have to accept that both Earth and Moon have a finite lifespan. The Sun is growing approximately 10% in diameter every billion years. Water on Earth will no longer exist in liquid form in two billion years and life on Earth as we know it would end. Our lunar archive would also be in jeopardy.

    The archive could, potentially, even be demolished by an asteroid strike, provided it was close enough, big enough and fast enough. An absorbing dimension to the scientific ambitions of Lunar Mission One is to ask how we can predict the archive’s survival, its reliance on exact location, and what eventually is most likely to compromise its readability.

    Developing this calculation, in the form of a mathematical model, is something we want to offer to the public.


    Discovery and Recovery

    When people first hear about Lunar Mission One’s archive, many begin to imagine when it will be discovered, and by whom. Will it be by a future form of humankind, or by another species, or perhaps by extraterrestrials from another planet far away? Although we may never be certain of the details of discovery, or guarantee it, the Lunar Mission One archive is an astonishing opportunity to preserve the details of our world for recovery, far into the future.

    So what will be discovered, and how might it be used by the discoverer? Deciding what will go inside the archive, and presenting what we know of our planet and ourselves, is one of the most engaging aspects of the entire project. Much of what makes us ‘human’ is intangible, and the history of humankind is inherently subjective under the bias of history and human perception. How can we resolve that, and how can we describe our complex relationship with the environment on which we depend?

    While thinking about what we would want to say to a prospective discoverer, we might also consider what would happen if we found a time capsule left behind by an ancient intelligent species during our current exploration of Mars. What would we want to find out about them? This question might be the answer to what we should say about ourselves.

    Often a mix of popular science fiction and the myths of conspiracy theorists, the question “Are we alone?” is actually the subject of serious scientific study. Of course, there is no conclusive evidence one way or another, but scientists have been looking for decades under the heading of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Life). The problem is the great distances and timescales involved in communicating anything between the stars of the galaxy.

    Nonetheless, the recent and continuing discovery of exoplanets, together with the work of astrobiologists who study the formation of planetary life, could in our lifetime lead to evidence of basic life elsewhere, and therefore increase the chance of extraterrestrial intelligence.

    It is clear that galactic life is uncertain and travel difficult. But by surviving a billion years, our archive stands a much better chance of discovery than anything else sent into space so far. What we will need is a form of sign to point to it, something that can survive for a similar timescale. We are opening up this challenge of creating the sign to the public.

    Perhaps the most difficult question of all is what the archive’s discovery might lead to. Will it be used for the benefit of the discoverer? Will it be used for our benefit, perhaps by following instructions we leave? Will its use be moral, and to whose standards? Will its discovery be no more than just academic interest? Does any of this matter to us anyway?


    Knowledge of Ourselves

    Just as the Apollo programme led to us looking back from the Moon and understanding the Earth more, so too can Lunar Mission One lead to increased awareness of how Life on Earth works, from the molecule to the climate. The biosphere we are part of, with millions of species sandwiched between the planet’s geology and its atmosphere, needs far more understanding of its dependencies before we can explain its intricacies, predict its behavior, and manage it effectively.

    It is not just our scientific understanding that serves to benefit from the compilation of the archive. It will also encourage people to ask more questions about what it is that best represents humanity, about what embodies our values and nature, cultivating a cultural dialogue.


    Lunar Mission One will encourage us all to question, investigate and explain Life on Earth. By doing so we will learn to understand it better – a key ambition of the project.