SILS plays role in historic effort to place archive on the moon

February 27, 2019

A copy of the Billion Year Archive, a vast collection of human knowledge recorded on a small but durable disc, has been hurtling toward the moon on the spacecraft Beresheet since its launch on Feb. 22. Paul Jones, Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS), helped curate the contents of the “Lunar Library,” which contains all of the ibiblio-hosted Project Gutenberg, all of the English language Wikipedia, and data for understanding over 5,000 languages.

Portrai of Paul Jones
Paul Jones, SILS Professor and Arch Mission
Foundation advisor

Jones is an advisor to the founders of the Arch Mission Foundation, an organization that designs, builds, and maintains long-term archives meant to preserve and disseminate humanity’s most important knowledge across time and space. Thanks to Jones’ involvement, SILS recently became a named partner on the foundation’s website.

For Beresheet, the Arch (pronounced Ark) Mission Foundation used nanotechnology to produce a special 25-layer nickel disc that is expected to survive on the moon for a billion years.

“This is the largest set of knowledge ever stored in a single object of this scale,” said Nova Spivack, co-founder of the Arch Mission Foundation. “It will also be the largest amount of human knowledge landed on another planetary object.”

SpaceIL, an Israeli nonprofit aiming to land the first privately funded spacecraft on the moon, launched Beresheet from Cape Canaveral, Fla. If all goes according to plan, Beresheet and the Billion Year Archive will land on the moon on April 11, almost exactly 50 years after humans took their first steps on the lunar surface.