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TIME CAPSULES

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ARCHIVING ARTS AND CULTURE

The Lunar Codex uses digital and analog technology to preserve art, books, music, film, and more. The choice of media depends on the project mission - but include NanoFiche, solid-state memory, ceramic memory, and synthetic DNA.

Metallic Analog Technology
 

The primary media archiving Lunar Codex files for the Nova and Polaris time capsules, respectively - is NanoFiche™. Our Freya and Serenity time capsule also utilize NanoFiche in tandem with other technologies.

NanoFiche is an analog technology developed by Stamper Technology, storing orders of magnitude more content in the same space as microfiche. It is impervious to temperature and humidity, and has a near-zero degradation factor.

As an archival medium, it can be expected to last for hundreds of thousands of years, if not more. The Arch Mission Foundation and others have called it the medium of choice for a "billion-year archive".

The image on the left is a micrograph of a nickel-based NanoFiche circle the size of a quarter, one of eight from layer 14 of a 16-layer disc stack. This particular circle contains the Nova collection of the Lunar Codex. The disc contains hundreds and hundreds of small square image, each 2Kx2K pixels in size, in sets of three - one channel each for red, blue, and green (RBG). 

As Incandence supported development of this technology, of the 8x15 NanoFiche collections in this stack, only the Lunar Codex's RGB collection has been proven decodable for full-color reproduction.

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The RGB channels can be re-combined - as shown below - into a multicolor reproduction of the original piece.

The multi-channel NanoFiche technology for color reproduction was developed during processing of the Lunar Codex archive, and is used for the first time ever for this archive.

While art is saved as multiple RGB files, poetry and other text is saved as a single-channel image per page. Music is saved on NanoFiche as a waveform and spectral decomposition image, as sheet music, or as hex-encoded MIDI files; other formats such as WAV or MP4 are saved digitally, as is video, and not on NanoFiche.

To further illustrate how NanoFiche technology can miniaturize high-resolution images, the photo below shows the book Memory's Children and the catalof fot the art exhibit Chronicles of a Future Foretold, reduced to credit-card size using a similar gold-based microfiche technology.

 

The technology produces images on gold of density 20,000 dots per inch (dpi). Each page is 5 mm in height and can be read with a magnifying glass.

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Despite this amazing reduction in size, the gold-based technology is not being used for the Moon, because of weight considerations. We need another medium that accepts a higher resolution over a smaller area, more amenable to launching into space. That material is nickel.

Contrast the gold-etched Memory's Children with a nickel-based 200,000-dpi NanoFiche disk below, with ten times the resolution, where fonts are 1 um, the size of a bacillus bacterium.

This nickel-based NanoFiche technology - the disk in the center - is what is used in the Lunar Codex's Neon and Polaris time capsules.

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The Foundation disk above contains the exact data as the crystal archive in the glove compartment of the red Tesla roadster launched via SpaceX in 2018.
 

The Memory's Children book on gold microfiche - now known as Totenpass to differentiate from the nickel-based NanoFiche - is too heavy to be economical for launch, but can theoretically withstand the environmental conditions on Mars.

NanoFiche can store 150,000 pages of text or photos on a single 8.5”x11” sheet. It is currently the highest density storage media in the world. 

For XM1, Codex graphics and text images are etched alongside other client images and enclosed in a time capsule on the NASA CLPS-2 lander.

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Analog technology was also used in our payload for Astrobotic's Peregrine Mission One (PM1) on Moonstone, in this case an etched silver disk that, for Codex purposes, confirms Dr. Peralta as payload provider for the program. 

Ceramic-Matrix Technology

The critical storage technology used by Codex for its Serenity and Freya time capsules is a ceramic-matrix medium storing digital information.

This utilizes machine-readable and writeable graphics and text files in standard formats, stored on a special ceramic and glass matrix. Manufacturers of the ceramic-matrix medium say this material is the foundation for another "billion year archive". The Lunar Codex has performed background work to confirm a belief that the practical lifetimes for both NanoFiche and ceramic-matrix materials can exceed 10,000 years.

More details on the ceramic-matrix technology used by the Lunar Codex is forthcoming.

Synthetic DNA Technology

A secondary storage technology used by Codex for Serenity is based on synthetic DNA. 

Using synthetic DNA for archiving data consists of taking the original data describing the text or image, and encoding and decoding this data to and from synthesized strands of DNA.

The practical use of this medium for data storage is currently limited because by high cost and relatively slow read and write times. However, the use of synthetic DNA shows great potential in terms of high storage density and longevity.

More details on the synthetic DNA technology used by the Lunar Codex is forthcoming.

Digital Semiconductor Technology

The primary storage technology used by Codex for the Orion and Peregrine time capsules, and in some parts of Freya, Serenity, and Polaris, is digital semiconductor, or solid-state, memory. This utilizes machine-readable and writeable graphics and text files in standard formats, stored on non-volatile memory cards.


NASA used the same class of memory cards for archival purposes in its Orion spacecraft MoonPod during its Artemis 1 mission in 2022. 

This NASA mission carried the Lunar Codex poem Three Faces of the Moon, completing lunar orbit and returning to Earth.

The poem will also be included in the Lunar Codex archive in 2024 via the Griffin 1 mission.

The advantage of using digital technology is its ability to record enormous amounts of data with a very small weight profile. Degradation and errors are addressed through file redundancy and/or shielding. In our case, the main Lunar Codex files are have a redundancy factor of 2 or 3, depending on the mission.
 

The Lunar Codex payload is enclosed in a MoonBox capsule, similar to the laser-printed containers shown below, fabricated by AON3D.

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The Lunar Codex uses space reserved for Dr. Peralta in three physically separate MoonBox capsules. These are consolidated, along with other similar payloads, in a single DHL MoonBox canister, as shown below.

This DHL MoonBox is physically bolted to the framework of the Peregrine Lander, which, when landing, serves as a marker for the time capsules on the lunar surface.

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Stacked Analog-Digital Technology

For the Lunar Codex's third time capsule Polaris - a stacked analog-digital storage system is used.
 

This consists of alternating layers of nickel shielding, NanoFiche memory discs, and digital memory cards, optimizing capacity and archival longevity.

Digital, analog, and hybrid time capsules will again be contained in a single sealed MoonBox canister bolted to the lunar lander's structure. The lander becomes a permanent marker of the location for the Polaris collection of the Lunar Codex.
 

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