A time capsule of human creativity to be stored on the moon

The Codex represents creators from a range of experiences. It includes several pieces from Connie Karleta Sales, an artist with the autoimmune disease neuromyelitis optica, who makes paintings using eye-gaze technology.

The image of New Moon by Alex Colville (1980) will be included in the Lunar Codex.

Electric Joy, one of the works, “celebrates the colour and movement of my mind,” Sales said in an email. “I might have limited use of my physical body, but my mind is limitless. It is dancing, laughing, crying and loving.”

Olesya Dzhurayeva, a Ukrainian printmaker, had evacuated from Kyiv in April 2022 in the first months of the Russian attack, when Peralta, who had previously purchased some of her work, contacted her with a supportive message. He also asked for her permission to archive images of several of her linocuts in the Lunar Codex, and she agreed.

“This project is so life-affirming with thoughts about the future,” she wrote in an email. “This is exactly what I needed in those first months.” A collection of her pieces are represented in the Codex, including a series of woodcuts printed with black Ukrainian soil.

The moon has hosted earthly art for decades.

Samuel Peralta, the creator of the Lunar Codex.

Samuel Peralta, the creator of the Lunar Codex.Credit: Brendan George Ko/The New York Times

The Moon Museum, a tiny ceramic tile featuring line drawings by Forrest Myers, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros and John Chamberlain, was discreetly attached to the leg of a lunar module left on the moon as part of the Apollo 12 mission in 1969.

Fallen Astronaut, an aluminum sculpture by Belgian artist Paul van Hoeydonck, was left on the lunar surface by the Apollo 15 crew in 1971, with a plaque commemorating 14 American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who died in scientific service to their countries.

Outside the Lunar Codex project, other contemporary artists are aiming to place solo works on the moon’s surface through commercial space travel, including Jeff Koons and British artist Sacha Jafri. The Arch Mission Foundation has sent Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy and millions of Lunar Library pages into space.

But the Lunar Codex has bigger storytelling ambitions.

It’s divided into four time capsules, with its material copied onto digital memory cards or inscribed into nickel-based NanoFiche, a lightweight analog storage media that can hold 150,000 laser-etched microscopic pages of text or photos on one a sheet about A4 size.

A file photo released by  NASA in 1970 shows the golden record on Voyager 1, launched on September 5, 1977, with a cartridge and a needle to play it.

A file photo released by NASA in 1970 shows the golden record on Voyager 1, launched on September 5, 1977, with a cartridge and a needle to play it.Credit: AFP/NASA

The concept is “like the Golden Record,” Peralta said, referring to NASA’s own cultural time capsule of audio and images stored on a metal disc and sent into space aboard the Voyager probes in 1977. “Gold would be incredibly heavy. Nickel wafers are much, much lighter.”

Peralta, a polymath who got his PhD in physics from the University of Wales, is the son of Filipino anthropologist/playwright Jesus T. Peralta and abstract artist Rosario Bitanga-Peralta. He started the Lunar Codex during the coronavirus pandemic to send his own work, including his science fiction books, to the moon before deciding to expand the scope.

He’s been compiling content for a few years, although some people he’s contacted haven’t taken him seriously. “I say, ‘I’d like to put your art on the moon,’ and they think this is some sort of a scam,” he said. His basic requirement for acceptance is that the artist or writer has been pre-curated by having work included in an exhibition, catalogue or anthology.


Peralta sees the Lunar Codex as “a message in the bottle for the future that during this time of war, pandemic and economic upheaval people still found time to create beauty”. And, for those who want to follow its travels, the Codex’s launch schedule and contents of each collection can be viewed at lunarcodex.com.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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