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    Posted on Nov 19, 2014

    12 Things You Need To Know About Lunar Mission One

    You can now pay to have a strand of hair buried in a time capsule on the moon, thanks to a new crowdfunded space mission. Update: The Kickstarter to fund the first stage of the mission was fully funded on 16 December.

    1. Lunar Mission One is a robotic mission to the moon led by the UK.

    Lunar Mission One

    It's an exploratory mission that aims to drill down into the moon to find out more about its origins. No astronauts will be going along for the ride, but it could provide some insights that will help pave the way for a lunar base in the future.

    David Iron, a former Royal Navy engineering officer, is the founder of Lunar Missions Ltd, the company formed to run the mission. Former science minister Ian Taylor is its chairman. It's partner's and advisors include RAL Space, University College London, the Institute of Education and the Open University.

    2. They're raising funding through Kickstarter.

    The Kickstarter goal is £600,000 and ends on 17 December. This crowdfunding is only intended to fund the first stage of the mission, including "initial project management and programme planning", according to the mission's FAQ, not the entire thing.

    The project reached its crowdfunding goal today, 16 December.

    3. You can contribute to a time capsule that will be buried on the moon.

    Lunar Mission One

    Lunar Mission One are offering the chance for anyone to buy a "digital memory box" that they say will be "preserved for billions of years" on the moon. You can put anything you want in the box, from messages to pictures, photographs, music and videos, as long as its digital.

    They don't yet say how much one will be, but if you pledge money towards the Kickstarter campaign you will receive a voucher towards a box equal to the value of your pledge. Pledge levels that come with a voucher range from £60 to £5000. According to the Kickstarter page, "the more you spend, the bigger your memory box".

    Sales will start during the development phase, which is due to begin in 2018.

    4. You will also be able to send a strand of your hair to the moon.

    Getty Images/iStockphoto egorr

    That's if you really want your DNA to be in a lunar time capsule, and have $100+ to spend.

    5. They want to raise £3 billion through sales of "digital memory boxes".

    Lunar Mission One

    From the mission's website: "We are able to predict around 15% of the global population would be able to afford the product. And about 1% of that group will purchase a digital memory box. This delivers a mid-point projected revenue of £3billion."

    6. The planned launch date is 2024.

    Lunar Mission One

    According to the mission's current timetable, if all goes to plan technology design and development will begin in 2018. Prototypes will be tested in 2020, with final testing following in 2023 and launch the following year.

    7. The probe will land at the moon's South Pole.

    Lunar Mission One / Via

    The South Pole has been earmarked because it gets enough sunlight to use for solar power, has a stable temperature and might even have water, hydrogen and other useful chemicals nearby.

    There won't be any astronauts going on this mission, but the probe could measure levels of harmful solar radiation to help prepare for future crewed missions to the moon. And by finding out what materials are available there, the mission could help pave the way for a future lunar base.

    8. And then drill at least 20 metres down.

    Lunar Mission One / Via

    But it could drill as far as 100m. Getting under the surface will let scientists study lunar rock that's 4.5 billion years old – as old as the solar system – and hopefully tell us more about the origins of the moon.

    9. It could reveal new information about the origin of Earth and the moon.

    Lunar Mission One

    The moon is believed to have formed around the beginning of the solar system. The leading theory is that, around 4.5 billion years ago, a Mars-sized object crashed into Earth and chipped off a piece of rock that became the moon. But we're not sure. By drilling down into the rock below its surface, scientists will be able to find out more about what it's made of and shed light on whether that's really what happened.

    10. The time capsule buried after drilling will contain a record of life on Earth.

    Lunar Mission One

    The mission will also include funding for the production of a "public archive". The archive will be buried with the digital memory boxes after the drilling has been done, but will also be freely available on the internet. It'll be "a record of human history and civilisation worldwide to date, alongside a species database showing the biodiversity of animals and plants".

    11. Lots of scientists and academics have endorsed the mission.

    Ruben Sprich/Reuters

    Including the astronomer royal Lord Martin Rees, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Professor Jim Al-Khalili. You can see the full list on their website.

    12. They got their crowdfunding inspiration from the Great Exhibition of 1851 that took place in Hyde Park, London.

    Louis Haghe / Via

    Included in the press pack for Lunar Mission One is this "crowdfunding case study" from history:

    "The Great Exhibition of 1851 provides a perfect example of how crowdfunding can bring people together to build something extraordinary, and create a lasting legacy from which future generations can benefit. These are amongst the core aims of Lunar Mission One."

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