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NASA plans to prove its next Moon landing is real using blockchain

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The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its partners Lonestar, a computing startup based in Florida, and the Isle of Man will send a payload to the Moon containing “data cubes” in February 2024. The data secured in these cubes will be verified back on Earth using blockchain technology.

If all goes to plan, the same blockchain technology will verify once and for all and immutably that humans have landed on the Moon when NASA launches its second crewed mission, Artemis 3, in 2025.

NASA’s Artemis mission is set to enter its second leg with the launch of Artemis 2 in November 2024. While that mission will be crewed, the four astronauts aboard will leave Earth, make an orbit around the Moon, and then return to Earth. It’s not quite the same as touching down on Lunar soil, but Artemis 2 is meant to be the final test run before the U.S. government puts humans on the surface of the Moon again with Artemis 3.

As one of many scientific missions taking place during the Artemis voyages, Lonestar and the Isle of Man are collaborating to pioneer long-term lunar storage systems that will rely on solar power and require no extra infrastructure to set up.

Related: Universities use blockchain-based storage to protect and democratize data

According to a report from the BBC’s Science Focus, the test will involve the creation of digital stamps — a technology referred to as “digital franking” — which will be stored in the data cubes on the Moon. Once installed, the data will be verified via blockchain back on Earth to ensure it’s complete and untampered.

As an interesting side effect of blockchain’s immutable nature, any astronauts landing on the Moon in the future could use the data cubes to essentially check in on the Moon. The astronauts’ interaction could be verified via the blockchain, and ostensibly, any conspiracy theories surrounding the next Moon landing could be immediately assuaged.

In an interview with Science Focus, the head of innovation at Digital Isle of Man said it was “surprisingly difficult” for NASA to rebuke the notion that it made up the six crewed Moon landings between 1969 and 1972.

Though the blockchain may not be able to disabuse conspiracy theorists of notions related to the lunar landings of the 20th century, it should serve as an indisputable register for the next humans who touch the Moon’s surface.