NASA will send blockchain-backed data cubes to the Moon starting in February 2024 to verify future Moon landings. NASA partners with Lonestar, a computing startup based in Florida, and the Isle of Man for the initiative.
The lunar cubes are a part of Lonestar and the Isle of Man’s collaboration to pioneer long-term lunar storage systems that rely on solar power and require no extra infrastructure. Their mission is motivated by the rise of data breaches in recent months, as explained in an interview with BBC Science Focus.
The involvement of blockchain technology, they said, is vital to ensure that the stored data is authentic and secure against tampering.
The lunar cube the team plans to launch in February is shaped as a black rectangle about the size of a book and will store around a terabyte of data. As the lunar cubes will not require the internet and thus have fewer points in the communication network, hackers will have less opportunity to intercept it.
Head of Innovation at Digital Isle of Man Kurt Roosen revealed that aside from protecting data from breaches, his team also sought to protect humanity’s important discoveries, which are exposed to various risks on Earth.
“In history, we’ve seen several circumstances where perceived bodies of knowledge have been lost or cultures have disappeared,” Roosen said.
Aside from risks of catastrophes, climate change and human tampering, storing data in different locations makes it subject to different data protection laws. Therefore, the team designated the Moon as their target location.
The lunar cubes are also a part of the various scientific missions taking place during NASA’s Artemis voyages. The Artemis mission, which aims to reestablish human presence on the Moon after the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, will enter its second phase with the launch of Artemis 2 in November next year.
Artemis 2, which will be crewed but only orbit the Moon, is meant to be the final test run before the U.S. government puts humans on the Moon’s surface again with Artemis 3 in 2025.
If everything goes according to plan, NASA hopes that blockchain technology will be able to immutably verify that humans have landed on the Moon during the Artemis 3 mission.
Roosen explained that it has been difficult for NASA to prove that the six crewed Moon landings between 1969 and 1972 were not made up. He said, “[People often tell NASA] ‘You made up the moon missions’ and proving that they’re actually there is surprisingly difficult.”
Now, the confirmation procedure for recording space investigation could be accomplished through blockchain innovation. This would involve the creation of computerized stamps, also called “computerized franking,” stored in the cubes on the Moon. The stamps would then be verified on Earth using blockchain technology.
The practice of franking could allow future astronauts to “check in” on the Moon using the data cubes. Although this procedure may not be able to rebuke the conspiracy theories regarding the lunar landings of the 20th century, NASA hopes that this verification process will dispel any conspiracy theories surrounding any Moon landings that come after.
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