Privately-funded 'mission to the moon' to celebrate Apollo 11 anniversary

A Audi-funded lunar rover
A Audi-funded lunar rover Copyright AUDI AG
Copyright AUDI AG
By Alice Tidey
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A privately-funded space exploration mission to launch in 2019 and to land on the moon will carry a time capsule about humanity and Earth.


Fifty years after humans first stepped on the moon, a team of European scientists will in 2019 undertake the first-ever private mission to land on the moon. Sanctuary, a time capsule on humanity for “a visiting alien,” will be among its precious cargo.

The aim of the privately-funded robotic space exploration mission, named “Mission to the Moon”, is to return to the historic site of the Apollo 11 and 17 missions and study the lunar rover left behind by the last astronauts — Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidtt — in December 1972.

Backed by European corporations including Audi, Vodafone, Omega, On and Infineon, and engineered by Berlin-based scientists PTScientists, the mission will include two lunar rovers that will also transfer scientific data and carry Sanctuary.

“Sanctuary is an original artistic outreach project. It is a record of humanity for a visiting alien: a creature from elsewhere or our future-selves (space or time-alien),” the website for the project reads.

Sanctuary Project
Sanctuary is a "Moon time capsule"Sanctuary Project

The “Moon time capsule” will include a collection of 9-cm sapphire discs on which stories, illustrations, literature, games, art and puzzles will be encoded in the form of tiny pixels — 3 billion per discs — etched on the surface.

It will also contain a pair of anonymously contributed genomes of a woman and a man.

The Sanctuary team, comprised of artists and researchers from international institutions and diverse fields of study, describe the project as “a love poem to the universe.”

“Sanctuary is not only a message to the future. It is also an opportunity to talk among ourselves about each other, here and now—an important conversation for which we are willing to make a detour to the Moon, all the while imagining the audience to be our descendants or galactic neighbors,” the website adds.

Member of the public will be invited to contribute by submitting messages and selfies to be engraved on the discs.

The project echoes previous ones including the Aricebo Message — a radio message carrying basic information about Earth sent into space in 1974 — and the Voyager Golden Records. The two phonographs records, which contain sounds and images portraying Earth's culture, were sent on the Voyager 1 spacecraft launched in 1977.

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