A group of science enthusiasts from Berlin, Germany, are planning to send their own custom-built rover to the Moon. And they want to take Wikipedia with them. In the year of Wikipedia’s 15th anniversary, our global community of editors is invited to prepare the ultimate time (and space) capsule of knowledge.
Wikipedia to the Moon – in a nutshell
The Part-Time Scientists are one of five teams left competing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge. Their goal is to reach the Moon by 2017, land their rover safely on the surface, have it drive 500 meters and send images back to Earth. There’s not much room in a space vehicle for things to take along. Typically, this so-called payload is used for scientific experiments. The Moon rover that the Part-Time Scientists are building has room for some of those, but it also comes with a data disc that has been offered by the German Wikimedia Chapter, Wikimedia Deutschland, in order to use for Wikipedia.
Why not simply take a Wikipedia dump and put it on the disc? Because the available disc space is very limited and would not even hold one of the large language versions—even without version histories or media files. More importantly, Wikipedia is a truly global project and to date features content in almost 300 languages. Even if only a snapshot of Wikipedia can be brought to the Moon, its content will equal a genuine snapshot of the sum of all human knowledge. Thus, it should carry not only the quality of the work of the Wikipedia community but also its cultural diversity, its different perspectives, its many voices.