DNA-in-space archive could spark 'Upload Me to the Moon' croon boom soon

The amber DNA in Jurassic Park? That's you, that is


Updated Stamping your footprints on the Moon's surface remains an impossible bucket-list ambition for practically all of us over the age of two. But for $99 you might still be able to leave a DNA footprint there.

A startup called LifeShip is getting ready to launch a Kickstarter campaign to send the biological source code of its crowd-funders on a full Moon shot. An investment of less than a hundred bucks could ensure your unique DNA not only gets to the Moon but remains there, safe and unmolested by the threat of natural disaster or nuclear holocaust, for millennia.

How so cheap? DNA does not take up much room, or should we say space, when hitching a ride to our largest natural satellite. LifeShip is working with Arch Mission to perfect a means of packing the DNA samples into blocks of epoxy resin for preservation during the journey and landing, and subsequent survival among the dusty craters.

Arch Mission was the organisation that produced the Lunar Library – an analogue and digital archive of human history and civilisation saved onto nickel discs – that was included in the Israeli Moon mission earlier this year. Launched on a Space X rocket, the archive – and the probe it was on – unfortunately came a cropper while accidentally setting down on the Moon at around 500kph.

Alongside the Lunar Library, Arch Mission included a tiny amount of its experimental epoxy resin containing millions of cells from humans and other organisms, plus the notorious water-dwelling, eight-legged that subsequently caused a bit of controversy.

LifeShip's founder Ben Haldeman assures potential participants concerned about contaminating the Moon's non-existent eco-system that DNA doesn't work that way: it's not alive, for a start.

His interest in Arch Mission's artificial amber is how it can protect its microscopic cargo from radiation damage. As he told IEEE Spectrum magazine: "We'll store the DNA dry and will have many thousands of copies of each person's DNA. If radiation breaks up some of them, there still should be redundancy."

Arch Mission insists the "amber" is still in development but Haldeman is keen to start sending out DIY DNA collection kits before the end of this year. If all goes to plan, LifeShip could begin sending DNA cargo to the moon on a regular basis, as individuals warm to the idea of having their bio-blueprint archived and backed up off-world for a million years or two.

It's a far cry from etching your face on a full moon by laser or buying a certificate which claims ownership of a square foot of lunar real estate. But at least a bit of you might actually get there. ®

Updated to add

Haldeman confirmed over the weekend that LifeShip will open to the public in roughly a month from now. He also responded to further questions from our Register hack.

Reg: How will participants know that their DNA really has achieved its destination?

Haldeman: We are planned on a 2021 Moon lander. We'll share the journey with our customers through emails and social media. We'll show how the DNA is stored in the Arch. We'll have confirmation from the Moon landing company and rocket company that the payload is on the launch. Customers can live stream the rocket and the Moon landing. There will be photos from the Moon lander confirming landing. If there is an anomaly and the lander does not reach the Moon intact then we will re fly [customers' DNA] on an additional Moon lander. There are several Moon landing companies that are providing transport to the Moon in the coming years.

Reg: What do you think are the motives of those who sign up?

Haldeman: Customers may have several motives:

  • (1) Gift: An unforgettable gift that you will be reminded of every time you see the Moon for the rest of your life.
  • (2) Mission Alignment: People interested in contributing their unique genetic code to an incredible seed bank that could benefit humanity in the future and is a step in furthering life into the Universe.
  • (3) Leaving a legacy: You get to leave your code for the future and do something memorable. DNA from now extinct species has been decoded from tree amber. We are now leaving our code for the future.
  • (4) Space enthusiasts: In some ways this is like micro space tourism. We connect people to the expanse of space and time in a new way.

Reg: If you don't mind going a bit sci-fi, what do you think might lie in store for the lunar DNA archives in the far future?

Haldeman: You could write 1,000 sci-fi novels starting with this. We just don't know. The Earth is changing rapidly and we are very close to being able to bring back the Woolly Mammoth. It is possible that this could be used as an archive to bring back life. LifeShip is a time capsule gift to the future of Earth's genetic code. We are taking steps towards sending life out into the Universe and helping Gaia expand. Our larger goal is to send DNA out of the solar system. We do care deeply about planetary protection and plan to be very aware and intentional about where and how we send DNA in space. It is possible that another life form finds this and is able to study, understand, or maybe someday even recreate life from it.

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022