The sefer Torah
How about putting the sefer Torah on the moon?Adiel lo, Wikimedia Commons

If anything were to happen to the Earth, like a global pandemic or a world-ending asteroid collision, would we lose the very foundations of our civilisation?

To prevent the complete eradication of humanity, a group based in Israel wants to have ancient religious, cultural, philosophical and biological records delivered to the moon for off-planet storage, according to the Washington Post.

The Torah on the Moon project, based in Tel Aviv, wants the winners of the Google Lunar XPrize to carry a handwritten Jewish scroll, the sefer Torah, to the lunar surface on a lander. Once there it will join the bible left by Apollo 15's Commander David Scott in 1971.

Eighteen privately funded teams are vying to be the first to manage a soft moon landing by the end of 2015, although only five finalist teams have a chance to meet Google's exacting requirements.

Once on the moon, the winning team's robot must travel 500 metres above, below or across the lunar surface, and be able to send back two "mooncasts" of information and video to Earth.

Sending ancient texts to the moon

In addition to the Torah, the Tel Aviv group also wants to send the I Ching, an ancient Chinese philosophical work, and the Hindu Veda scriptures.

"These three texts are among Earth's most ancient documents, created over 3,000 years ago," said Torah on the Moon founder Paul Aouizerate.

"They are significant to billions of people."

Each of the ancient documents will be housed in a special capsule that is designed to protect it from temperature changes and harsh radiation on the moon for at least 10,000 years, and the engineering arm of the European Space Agency has been commissioned to test the space-hardiness of such a capsule.

Unfortunately, the plans to send the ancient religious artefacts to the moon are already seeing strong opposition, most notably from Space IL, Israel's Google Lunar XPrize entry, although Space IL is not one of the five finalists.

Space exploration has nothing to do with religion

When Commander David Scott left a red leather bible on the control console of an Apollo moon buggy, atheist activists were enraged, saying that religion had no place on federally funded space missions.

Luckily, however, not everyone agrees.

Moon Express, one of the two American finalist teams, is willing to carry artefacts to the moon, and even thinks we should take the plan a step further and store the DNA of a million people (a representative sample of humanity) on the moon, in case anything catastrophic should occur.

"I don't think these religions are claiming the moon. It's about saving our culture, saving the humanities," said Naveen Jain, chief executive of Moon Express, one of the X Prize contenders.

"In case of an asteroid strike that wipes us out like the dinosaurs, humanity can be saved."

Torah on the Moon will announce which Google Lunar XPrize team will be carrying the Torah capsule to the moon in the next few months.