The Writing On The Moon

The Writing On the Moon                                                                                                                Scripturam Luna

Curiosity's tracks with Morse code highlighted.

“Moon-bouncing” or “Earth-Moon-Earth” transmissions are apparently a popular pastime of moon, radio, and Morse Code enthusiasts alike. One can beam Morse Code at the moon, 239,000 miles away, and wait 2.7 seconds for the signal to bounce back. NPR says, “Anyone with a good transmitter and an antenna capable of being rotated in the azimuth and elevation planes can bounce messages off the moon.”

NPR also noted that Katie Peters, a Scottish artist, bounced a Morse Code version of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata off of the moon. Some of the transmission was trapped by moon craters and never returned – Peters put the fragmented version returned by the moon on a player piano, which can be seen on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfPFBVPiyVg

NASA has recently taken Morse graffiti to another level, this time physically imprinting bits of code directly onto the surface of Mars. The wheels of the Curiosity Rover are grooved such that the tracks left behind spell out “J…P…L…” (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), allegedly used by NASA to measure a full turn of Curiosity’s wheels. See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UhN0Sb3Kg_0

We must wonder how the moon feels about reflecting all of our messages – does it worry when we send an SOS? Does it even like Beethoven? Does it get annoyed by the constant Morse barrage? Is NASA just as bad as HAMAD?

-IS

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