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Want to send a message to the Moon? An MSU-developed computer has you covered

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Posted at 5:25 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 12:01:52-05

Montana State University is sending a computer to the surface of the Moon and is inviting the public to submit messages to be held in a time capsule within "RadPC."

RadPC is the name for the innovative computer that has been in development for over a decade at MSU. With the support of NASA, it will launch in the summer of 2023.

“Further exploration will need faster and faster computers; our earth computers crash when they get to outer-space,” Professor Brock LaMeres said. LaMeres has found interstellar travel, and the implementation of computers in space, intriguing.

LaMeres, other faculty, and students have been hard at work creating, coding, and testing the Rubik-cube-sized, radiation-tolerant computer.

“We’ve been to the space station a couple times, and then in 2023 we will undergo our harshest test yet, traveling to the surface,” LaMeres said.

The Moon will be the furthest this technology has traveled, and with the stars, the radiation will be higher than in previously tested sites. A team continues to prep and test communication with the computer.

“Honestly, I have to pause my code every now and again and remind myself that this will be on the lunar surface,” Chris Major said.

Major chose MSU for his PhD work, because of the exploration in space, and has been tasked with a portion of the coding and testing.

The RadPC does have free space, offering a unique opportunity for the public: to send messages to the Moon.

“Usually you think only astronauts will ever get to send anything up there, and now, we get to participate in something I never thought I’d be able to do,” MSU Student Senator Kai Carlson said.

Hundreds of messages have already been submitted to the RadPC, and there is room for many more.

“We’re building hardware in Montana that’s going to the Moon. Wouldn’t it be awesome to let everyone in Montana be a part of it?” LaMeres said.

Messages can be submitted here, and are asked to be complete by March 11, 2022.