The State of Montana invites the public to submit messages to be sent to the moon | national news
When an innovative computer developed at Montana State University travels to the moon next year for testing as part of a NASA mission, it will be carrying an unusual cargo: short messages submitted by students from Montana and anyone else wishing to help commemorate the trip.
The MSU researchers who developed the radiation-tolerant computer technology called RadPC are inviting the public to submit approximately 50-word text, along with an optional image, to be stored in the memory of the computer-sized prototype computer. a Rubik’s Cube when it takes flight, likely aboard a SpaceX rocket in the summer of 2023.
“We had room for extra memory in the computer and thought it would be a cool way for people to log into the project,” said Brock LaMeres, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Norm Asbjornson. MSU’s College of Engineering, which pioneered the technology more than a decade ago.
RadPC was one of 12 science and technology payloads that won a coveted spot in 2019 to travel to the lunar surface under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, in which several privately-developed landers will carry small payloads on the lunar surface. The trip to the Moon will be RadPC’s biggest test to date, following two tests on small satellites launched from the International Space Station, three sojourns on the space station itself, as well as shorter trips to the far reaches of the Earth. outer space on sounding rockets and high-altitude balloons. . One of the satellites contained aluminum plaques bearing the approximately 2,000 names of MSU’s Spring 2018 class.
Since its inception, the project has involved 62 MSU undergraduates, 17 graduate students, and nearly a dozen faculty, including engineers from the staff of the Space Science and Engineering Laboratory housed in the Department of Physics at the College of Letters and of MSU Science.
On-board computers that control spacecraft – including satellites involved in weather forecasting, GPS and long-range communications – have to deal with high-energy radiation emitted by the sun and other celestial bodies. Traditionally, oversized circuits made of special materials have provided resistance, but this has also made devices more expensive and bulky. In contrast, RadPC combines multiple ordinary computer processors with software to create on-the-fly redundancy, allowing calculations to continue even if a particle of radiation strikes and disrupts the computer’s sensitive memory.
LaMeres suggested that the messages inspire future generations and highlight the positive aspects of planet Earth or pay tribute to someone. For more information and to send a message, visit montana.edu/moon. There, visitors can also find information about the Space Research Scholarship Fund, which LaMeres says helps support students who want to participate in similar projects.
For more information, contact Brock LaMeres at [email protected] or call 406-994-5987.