There is Now a 30 Million Page Backup of Planet Earth, on the Moon! — New NASA Images Show Location of the Lunar Library

Nova Spivack
May 16 · 23 min read

The Legend of the Lost Lunar Library

There is now a backup of planet Earth, on the Moon, that will last up to 5 billion years.

This “Lunar Library” is made of tiny etched pages and images, containing our most important human history and cultural treasures from every nation.

The official top cover of the Lunar Library

The Lunar Library was built by USA nonprofit charity, The Arch Mission Foundation.

It was delivered onto the Moon in April of 2019, on the Israeli Beresheet mission, which ended in an unexpectedly bumpy crash-landing.

Yet despite the crash of Beresheet, new NASA images of crash site confirm our predictions and enable us to now state that at least 60,000 pages of the Lunar Library are safely intact on the Moon. And in the best case, all 30 million pages are intact as well.

Among other things, this means that Israel’s SpaceIL mission in fact succeeded in delivering the first commercial payload in history to the Moon. The reason we can say this is that in fact, a generous benefactor, Tzili Charney, made a donation to SpaceIL on our behalf, in order to make it possible for them to afford to carry us on their nonprofit, donation-funded mission. Therefore, although the both entities are nonprofits, there was a commercial contract and donation in place that makes the Lunar Library qualify as a commercial payload. Congratulations SpaceIL and Israel!

But there is much more to the story…

Every nation’s peoples, languages, cultures, history, art, science, literature, traditions, religions, poetry, beliefs, and greatest achievements are now preserved on the surface of the Moon for up to 5 billion years. Think about that the next time you gaze up at the sky and ponder the moonlight!

So why are we so sure the Lunar Library is intact? Read on…

The Crash of Beresheet

In April of 2019, the SpaceIL Beresheet (“Genesis”) Lunar lander crash-landed on the Moon.

Selfie on the way to the Moon.

It was a dramatic and unexpected ending to a 10 year odyssey that began as a student-led mission and grew into a $100 million mission — the first privately-funded commercial mission to attempt to land on the Moon.

Hidden inside Beresheet was a special payload — the Lunar Library, a 25 layer metal disc containing a 30 million page backup of planet Earth, built by the nonprofit charity, The Arch Mission Foundation.

The cover of the Lunar Library — in a clean room — prior to being shipped.


After the crash, an investigation was conducted to Find the Lunar Library. Through this analysis, we concluded that although we were not certain where it crashed yet, we could be certain that the Lunar Library disc was not destroyed.

Recently, in May of 2019, NASA released satellite images of the Beresheet crash site from their Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera.

NASA LRO Camera montage of before and after imagery of location of the Beresheet crash, from 90km above the surface. Each pixel is 1 meter. This shows an impact crater, debris field, and scattered reflective dust. Individual pieces of debris are smaller than 1 meter and cannot be seen at this resolution. The Lunar Library is 120mm diameter and would be far too small to see from space.

In addition, Stephen Wolfram and the team at Wolfram Research have produced the first enhanced image analysis of the crash site and debris field, which covers more than 100 square meters.

Note that there is likely to be a much larger field that can be seen from a lower altitude — these images were taken from 90 km above the surface. We expect debris to be scattered up to many kilometers away from the central impact zone.

A sequence from Wolfram Research showing before, after, and final upsampled and colorized super-resolution image
Wolfram Research image analysis of impact site. The orange area is approximately a 100 square meter region within the image. Each pixel is 1 meter. This image was taken from 90 km altitude by the NASA LRO camera. This image shows the colorized (orange) difference between the before and after LROC images, with clear indications of a debris field.
Wolfram Research image analysis of impact site. The orange area is approximately a 100 square meter region within the image. Each pixel is 1 meter. This image was taken from 90 km altitude by the NASA LRO camera. Click the image for the full analysis and Mathematica notebook file.

These new images show a crash site and a debris field that correspond almost exactly to what our analysis predicted.

It is important to note that these images were taken from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) at an altitude of 90 kilometers (55 miles) above the Lunar surface. In this imagery, each pixel is 1 meter. Therefore anything smaller than 1 meter in size would below the resolution of the camera and would not be visible in these images.

The SpaceIL Beresheet lander was about 2 meters in diameter — so if it was intact it would occupy 2 pixels. Any debris remaining from the disintegration of the lander would be far too small to see from 55 miles above the Moon.

The diameter of the Lunar Library disc is 120mm, and would occupy only 1/8 of a pixel. Even if it was fully intact, it would not be visible.

But the presence of a crater at the crash site, with evidence of a 100 square meter surface disturbance, proves that Beresheet made it to the surface of the Moon.

Now why is this significant for the Lunar Library?

Why the Lunar Library is Intact

Now that we actually know there is a crash site, and a potential debris field that corresponds to our scientific predictions, we are confident that at least 60,000 pages of the Lunar Library are now intact and recoverable on the surface of the Moon.

And in the best-case, all 30 million pages are also intact and recoverable as well.

Bottom line: The Lunar Library survived — whether as a single object or a bunch of fragments. Either way, this means the Library is there.

Worst-case: Most or all of the 60,000 analog etchings of pages and images in the top 4 nickel layers are intact and recoverable on the surface of the Moon.

Best-case: If the discs were not fragmented, which is what we believe is likely, then all 30 million pages in the additional digital file layers are also intact and fully recoverable.

Here’s why…

The Lunar Library disc could not have been destroyed in the crash of Beresheet. It is stronger than airplane flight recorder “black box” and much smaller, thinner and lighter.

The Lunar Library payload is actually a stack of 25 nickel DVD-sized discs, glued together with 24 layers of slow-cure epoxy resin, and then sealed in many layers protective materials.

As well as what we protected it with, SpaceIL added additional protective discs on each end, and a special insulating material around it as well.

The nickel analog etching technology we used was designed to survive a nuclear war, and the materials and durability of data on this object have been extensively tested by Los Alamos national laboratories.

The nickel discs are are quite durable: they have have been tested to withstand sustained heat of more than 2,000°F (nickel melts at 2,651°F), without material damage to the data that is etched on them. The discs are not affected by cold temperatures, or cosmic radiation. Nickel has no half-life, it’s an element, and does not decay.

The Lunar Library payload spec diagram. The final version was 100 grams, due to addition of additional external shielding material to protect the discs.
The Lunar Library being inserted into a pouch made of multi-layer insulating material — a metallized protective material. Additional layers of protective materials — including M-Discs from SpaceIL — were added on both sides of this disc, and then several more layers of protective materials were added before the set was then taped onto the lower platform of the spacecraft with Kapton tape.
SpaceIL founders inserting the final Lunar Library into the outer rim of the lower platform of Beresheet.

According to our analysis, due to where it was placed and the way it was fastened, as well as many other factors, we believe the Lunar Library was probably ejected away from the impact, and is likely to now be fully intact, resting on the Lunar surface forever.

Because of what is made of, how it was protected, and where it was in the Beresheet lander, we are confident that the Lunar Library disc could not have been melted or atomized — the impact energy of the crash was not strong enough to destroy the discs or the data etched on them.

Small, light, flexible objects tend to fare better in explosions, and in our team’s experience, even after rocket failures the end in explosions, pieces of paper and plastic from the debris of payloads may be later found intact on the ground.

So, based on what we know, and our analysis, as well as our practical experience, we think the Lunar Library is likely to be fully intact.

But even if it was fragmented into a few larger pieces, or even into many pieces of shrapnel, it would still consist of far fewer than 60,000 fragments.

Let’s suppose that it was blasted into 1000 equally sized fragments. In that case, there would still be approximately 60 analog nickel etchings of images of pages and photos per fragment.

Whether the “shelves” of the Lunar Library are all in one spot, as originally intended, or they are now scattered around the impact zone as if a pack of three-year olds just had a playdate with them, it’s still a library.

How Can the Lunar Library Be Accessed?

The first 60,000 images of the Lunar Library payload were etched as tiny analog images onto the surfaces of a nearly indestructible nickel disc.

They are not digital data, they are tiny pictures that are literally embossed as surface reliefs made of nickel using nanotechnology.

To read them all you need is a microscope — no computer is necessary. If you look at the surfaces of these discs, or even of fragments of them, under magnification, you can see these etchings perfectly, as arrays of side-by-side 300 dpi monochrome bitmap images.

This was intentional. We designed the stack so that the top layers would be easy to access without a computer (because we cannot be sure that future discoverers will have computers, or computers like ours).

To read to the top layers of the Lunar Library, all you need are simple optics that we had here on Earth in the 1700’s. Within these top layers, we provide a collection of vital knowledge, and we teach everything necessary to access the much larger amounts of data in the digitally encoded layers of the stack.

A set of images showing various magnifications of different portions of the top analog etched layers of the Lunar Library

A library is not really a library unless it can be accessed by its intended audience. Because the Lunar Library is at least partially intact, then whether or not it is ever retrieved, it could be retrieved it is not irretrievable — and therefore it really is a library.

Of course, in order for our intended audience (intelligent beings in the future) to actually retrieve the Lunar Library, they would need to first get to the Beresheet crash site on the Moon, then find the disc or at least fragments of it, and then look at what they found, under a microscope. This is certainly plausible. After all, human treasure hunters and archeologists have been doing exactly this for centuries right here on Earth.

In the distant future, if and when some spacefaring civilization returns to the Moon, they would definitely be able to locate the Beresheet shipwreck and could recover the lost Lunar Library.

An Archeological Artifact on the Moon

The Lunar Library is now an archeological site on the Moon.

Future space archeologists might locate this site, recover the Lunar Library (or its fragments), and then reconstruct these “ancient tablets” just as archeologists of our era have pieced together the artifacts of previous civilizations on the Earth.,_14th_century_BC,_from_Hattusa,_Istanbul_Archaeological_Museum.jpg

Locating the fragments would be possible, and even likely, because they are within the debris field of a very obvious shipwreck on the Moon that would be noticed by anyone doing a detailed survey of the Lunar surface.

In addition, the Lunar Library discs (and any fragments of them) are ferromagnetic nickel objects that could be detected magnetically, and they reflect an unique color spectra that is not natural to anything else on the Moon.

Provided the fragments are not obscured by dust or debris, the nano-diffractive surfaces would scatter light with a uniquely characterizable and recognizable spectral signature, which is different from anything else on the Moon, could be detected from above, and even from space (with a sensitive enough instrument).

What is in the Lunar Library

Even if only the 60,000 analog etchings on top 4 layers of the Lunar Library disc layers are recoverable, they contain a vast collection of vital information for humanity.

The analog layers contain a subset of the entire collection, and include:

  • The Arch Mission Primer, which teaches nearly a million important concepts with pictures and diagrams.

The complete Lunar Library contains much more, encoded in nearly 200 Gigabytes of digital data in the deeper layers of the stack. This includes:

  • The English Wikipedia (text, not media files; they will be sent in a future edition of the Lunar Library, when more payload space is available to send them, along with many other language versions of Wikipedia as well).

If you would like to explore a sample of this. Click on the image below to zoom into a rendering of a small portion of the 7.5 million Wikipedia pages we included:

Interactive rendering of a small subset of Wikipedia Vital Articles, in which the notes sections of the pages have been truncated to fit more of them into this rendering (in the actual Lunar Library, nothing is truncated, all the data and metadata is complete).

A Rendering of a subset of the Wikipedia in the Lunar Library.

Here is another example, showing a rendering of a set of books and other items from Arch Mission advisors. In this particular area of the Library, intervening empty spaces between books were packed with diagrams of writing systems and character sets.

How the Lunar Library Was Built

The Lunar Library was built for the Arch Mission Foundation, using an advanced new technology for etching tiny analog images into nickel, invented by the scientist and engineer, Bruce Ha (See:

For an in-depth description of how Lunar Library was built, and what it contains, read our comprehensive publication, Overview of the Lunar Library, which contains a detailed “making of” section, as well as a catalog, and much more commentary.

Here is a zoomed out picture of a tiny part of one little area in the Arch Mission Primer section.

A low-quality microscope image of a set of analog etchings on one part of the Primer layer of the Lunar Library

Each analog layer was etched at 300,000 dpi and is a 140 billion pixel surface that contains 20,000 analog images, where each image is 300 dpi.

Here is a rendering of photos of members of the SpaceIL community. Each photo is a 300 dpi image.

The front cover (top) layer has fewer images at a lower magnification (larger size) in order for the images to be easier to see with a lower power microscope and even the naked eye.

An image of 1 area on the front cover of the top analog layer of the Lunar Library.

On the deeper analog layers, each letter of each word is the size of a bacillus bacterium. Features of each letter are sculpted in the sub-micron range (they are etched at nanometer scale).

A series of images depicting Bruce Ha, the inventor of the nano diffractive etching technology that the Lunar Library is built with, etched by electro deposit into a 1 mm area of nickel (for more info see:
Portion of the Hebrew Bible, as surface relief nickel etchings made by electro-deposit.
Scan showing sub-micron feature precision of Tibetan letters.

The Arch Mission Foundation

Our nonprofit charitable organization, the Arch Mission Foundation, is backing up planet Earth, so that our heritage (our knowledge, culture, art, science, DNA, etc.) will never be lost.

We call this The Billion Year Archive initiative — it’s a backup strategy that is designed to guarantee the preservation of the heritage of our world for at least a billion years.

We make our backups using new technologies that can preserve data for ultra-long-timescales. But durability alone is not enough. We are also distributing these backups to many locations around the solar system, as well as to locations all around the Earth itself. This concept of “many copies, many places” is a common best-practice in any good backup strategy.

By sending many offsite backups (and a stream of updates) to many locations, we can eventually make a 100% guarantee that at least some of them will last for up to billions of years.

In human history, until now, this guarantee has never before been possible to make. We will achieve this within 10 years, and then we will continue it.

We started the Arch Mission in 2015 as a grassroots effort, and got our full nonprofit organization status in 2016.

In the last two years (2018 and 2019) — and funded purely by a few donations from friends and our own team — we have sent 4 backups to space.

But this is just the beginning.

We plan to send thousands of these backups to points around the solar system, locations on Earth, and even beyond our solar system, over time.

By placing many copies in many places, and sending a regular stream of updates, we can ensure that the heritage of our civilization and our planet will be protected and can never be lost.

This growing distributed backup of Earth can be used to recover our records, and even reconstruct our civilization and even life on Earth… if ever necessary.

Hopefully a backup of Earth isn’t needed anytime soon, but it will be eventually.

On geological timescales it is certain that life on Earth will be wiped out many times — it happens with regularity on million-year timescales — and so this distributed backup will be the only remaining trace of our civilization.

Why is a Backup of Planet Earth Needed?

The global situation here on Earth is trending in the wrong direction. We are headed towards multiple potential extinction-level events, including an environmental crisis of our own making.

Humanity and the leaders of the world are not rising the challenge fast enough. By the time the environmental crisis we face becomes an urgent issue for every person on the planet, it will be too late to stop the collapse that is coming. If people act now — on a massive and intense global level — the best we can achieve is to reduce the severity of what’s coming.

We are already in the opening act of the sixth great extinction on Earth. This is a fact, not “fake news.”

The gifts of nature, that we have taken for granted all our lives, will be mostly gone after 100 years. That’s not a long time.

Our children and grandchildren will have to endure — and try to survive in — the broken planet we are leaving them. Everyone knows something is wrong — even the climate change deniers know the weather is starting to become more violent.

The ripple effects of the accelerating loss of species and ecosystems, the undeniable fact of rising global temperature, the pollution and over-depletion of natural resources and the environment, and over-population and unchecked industrialization of the world, are a perfect storm.

We do not believe that governments will get organized enough to solve this before it is too late, although we hope a worldwide movement of concerned individuals will rise to the challenge in time.

But what if that doesn’t happen? What if neither governments nor concerned citizens of the world are able or willing to act decisively to save the environment, and prevent all the other existential risks we face?

In case we don’t solve all these problems — Then we at least have to prepare for various 50 year, 100 year, and 1000 year worst-case scenarios. That’s the intelligent, wise, and responsible thing to do.

Making sure that no matter what happens, Earth’s heritage will survive and be recoverable is what we are doing at the Arch Mission Foundation.

While much of our work is focused on preservation of the past for the benefit of those in future, there are also many near-term benefits of our work, even if the world doesn’t end anytime soon.

The main near-term benefit has been in bringing people together across cultures, disciplines and and organizations, to think about how to solve these emerging global problems, and how to prepare for the possibility that they aren’t solved.

The conversations we have facilitated have already yielded many new collaborations, new technologies, and even new startup ventures.

In addition, we have helped to raise awareness globally in the media, and we have worked behind the scenes to give a number of space missions a higher purpose and benefit for humanity.

If that’s all we accomplish, that’s enough. But we also have delivered several ultra-long-term backups of Earth into secure locations, and that’s certainly a plus.

Although the threats that humanity faces from nature, and its own stupidity and short-sightedness, are increasingly dire, we are still optimistic that humanity and life on Earth will get through the turmoil ahead. It won’t be an easy ride.

The next few centuries will be hard. But, as Harry Seldon realized, in Isaac Asimov’s inspirational Foundation Series, making a backup of civilization can have subtle yet profoundly beneficial effects on the future trajectory and resilience of civilization. Even if the backup is never needed, the act of making it, and making it a priority, changes civilization’s direction for the better. Ironically, by helping to prepare for the decline of civilization as we know it, we may help to prevent it, make it less severe, or at least help it recover faster.

Change is part of life, and part of nature. Change is often painful, and learning requires making mistakes. But the sign of higher intelligence is the ability to relate to change proactively, rather than just reactively. We are doing this and therefore we have hope.

It All Started With a Dream I Had When I Was Eight Years Old

Ok, well if you have read this far, you know quite a lot about what we are doing and why. But there is more. A lot more.

There is a secret backstory, including an incredible series of unlikely events that led to all of this. That story will be told at another time. It’s long, detailed, and full of surprises and high strangeness, including photographic evidence of some really amazing things that have happened along the way.

Believe it or not, this all began with a very detailed dream that I had one night as an eight-year-old child in 1977.

I have been meaning to write about this dream, and I will. It’s almost a novel, it was so detailed and long.

But suffice to say, in that dream I saw my adult life in which all of this was happening, in great detail, as well as what is coming next and for a long time into the future. I don’t know if all of it will come true — and I hope it doesn’t have to. But because of that dream, I developed a long interest in preserving our civilization and helping humanity in any way I can.

That’s why I’m doing this now.

And I’ve been really fortunate to meet many like-minded people along the way. I didn’t do this alone.

Without the close collaboration of Nick Slavin, Bruce Ha, Matt Hoerl, Robert Jacobson, Michael Paul, Tzili Charney, Genius 100, Peter Kazansky, Stephen Wolfram, Small Jones, Brewster Kahle, Laura Welcher, Adam Cheyer, Josh Jones-Dilworth, Doug Freeman, Yonatan Weintraub, Yariv Bash, Ido Aharoni, Rami Kleinmann, David Copperfield, and our many other team members, advisors, and partners — this would not have materialized.

What’s Next?

Our work has only just begun. We have had some accomplishments and we have proved we can execute.

But to fulfill our mission we have to keep going — we have to send many more backups to many places, on an ongoing basis.

We have many new missions to deliver backups of Earth planned — to the Moon, as well as around the solar system, and even around the surface of planet Earth. These are part of many initiatives that use new technologies we are working with. There is much more to do! It’s exciting, challenging, and meaningful work.

It’s also often extremely hard and even lonely work at times — and we struggle to do this alone and without the support we need. Yet through thick and thin — we make it happen.

I am proud of what our small team has accomplished. We have placed the longest lasting archives of civilization ever made into the longest-duration locations in the solar system.

We have backed up planet Earth to some extent — and we have a plan to do it much more thoroughly — a plan that we are executing.

That’s not bad for our first few years of bootstrapping this effort.

And no matter how hard it is at times, it’s also super fun, satisfying and meaningful. Plus we get to meet and work with some of the smartest and most visionary people on the planet.

And we have no choice. We are driven to do this. We have to do it. We love doing it. We will do it. And we invite you to do it with us.

Visit our site, follow us, and join our mailing list to keep up with our progress.

And please consider making a donation — large or small — to support our work.

We Need Your Help

For what we have accomplished, you would be amazed at how small and underfunded we are.

The Arch Mission is not a bunch of billionaires working on a vanity project. It’s actually a core team of less than 10 volunteers, with about 50 volunteer advisors, and the goodwill and help of several dozen leading organizational partners.

Backing up Earth in even one offsite location should have cost more than several tens of millions of dollars, but we have been able to deliver four locations for only a few million dollars of combined cash donations and in-kind pro-bono services.

We succeeded by sheer force of will, passion, ingenuity, and by carefully applying all the lean-startup skills we’ve all learned over our decades of collective tech startup and production experiences.

But we have gone about as far as humanly possible on a volunteer-basis and without a real budget or staff. Now we need your help!

We believe the work we are doing is important for humanity and life on Earth today, as well as in the future. It must continue and our civilization has limited time to get this backup fully in place before it’s too late to do it well.

To scale this effort across the solar system, and the planet, we need serious help, including large committed ongoing financial support from people and organizations who share our concern and are able to help us execute.

If you believe in our vision, and if you can help support us with donations, please contact us.

The Moon has Changed

When you look up at the Moon from now on, think about what is now there. The Moon has changed.

The Moon is now a library of the most sacred, important, and wonderful accomplishments and memories of the human race. It also contains some fun, even humorous oddities and ephemera — plus many secret Vaults to be revealed in the future.

Because of what we have landed there, the Moon is quite literally now a place where all of us are represented and where all of our cultures and traditions are honored, respected, and enshrined, for billions of years. All of humanity’s wishes, accomplishments, memories, and prayers are there — forever.

The Moon has always been a symbol of peace and serenity. It is a safe space for humanity — a place where we are all friends. We are all equally close to it. We can all see it. And most importantly, when you look back the Earth from the Moon, there are no national boundaries seen on Earth. The Earth, and every living being on it, are simply one.

So think about this when you look at the Moon from now on: The Moon is now home to humanity’s most important and treasured beliefs and heritage — and everyone in the Wikipedia, and the many other data sets we included, are there. Humanity is there, forever.

The Earth is our face and the Moon is its mirror — A mirror that reflects not only the light of the Sun, but now also the light of humanity.

The Lunar Library Dedication Poem — by Nova Spivack, February 2019

Nova Spivack

Written by

Co-founder of many things. Bio: http//

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