What's the Latest Development?
Possibly as early as next year, a commercial lander could arrive on the moon bearing precious cargo: a handwritten Jewish scroll known as a Sefer Torah. The scroll will be housed in a special container, still being tweaked, that will protect it from the harsh lunar environment for at least 10,000 years. If the mission is successful, future flights will carry two other important religious and philosophical texts: the Hindu Vedas and the Chinese I Ching.
What's the Big Idea?
The Torah on the Moon project is just one of several that plan to take advantage of commercial space flight -- through the 18 teams currently competing for the Google Lunar X Prize -- to preserve one or more aspects of human culture on the moon "in case Earth suffers a pandemic plague, nuclear holocaust or lethal asteroid strike." Some of those suggested include a representative DNA sample of a million people and the works of celebrated artists, writers and musicians. If the Sefer Torah survives the trip, it will become the second religious object to find a lunar home: The first was a Bible left on a moon buggy by Apollo 15 commander David Scott in 1971.
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