Plans for a Moon Temple could soon allow astronauts to pause and reflect on Earth’s ancient cultures in space.
When humans begin to populate other worlds, what should they take with them, and what should they leave behind?
For example, when we colonize the Moon in the near future, we will have a chance for a new start. What kind of new civilizations should we aspire to create? Given the history of human colonization, can we avoid taking aggressive and selfish behaviors into space?
Those are the question that artist Jorge Mañes Rubio is answering. Rubio, an artist-in-residence at the European Space Agency, is rethinking what humans will need when we go to places like the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
To the artist, retaining the wisdom of our ancient cultural identities and practices will be essential as we attempt to establish new roots elsewhere. Rather than turn our backs to our past, we must honor how ancient cultures shaped us.
“We rarely talk about cultural, ethical or even spiritual matters when discussing space exploration, but I believe it’s precisely culture that will give us a purpose in the future,” says Rubio.
To challenge the “current models of space colonization,” Rubio is starting with a “big gesture.”
The Moon Temple
First, Rubio has big plans for the Moon, and they could become real very soon. Rubio plans “to recognize the Moon as a universal symbol of rebirth and renewal.”
Astronauts will gather in “the Moon Temple,” which he defines as “a future space for diverse cultural projections, traditions and scientific research.” In this reflective space, science, art, and rituals familiar on Earth can come together once more.
Inside the Moon Temple, ritual artifacts “symbolizing humanity’s ancestral wisdom” will act as a “bridge to distant worlds.” Rubio has chosen to incorporate materials like moon dust and “rare aerospace materials” into the artifacts. (see video below)
“These objects carry within them thousands of stories yet to be written. Some provide protection, while others relate to the harsh conditions that people will endure outside our planet. But even if these objects come from a place far away from here, we can still recognise a familiar human quality within them,” he states.
The temple location will be at the rim of the Shackleton crater, where there are periods of eternal light and darkness.
To design the Moon Temple, Rubio is taking into account “lunar microgravity, the use of local resources and the complex celestial mechanics” at the Moon’s South pole.
Utopian Vision for an Interplanetary Future
As we colonize the Moon, the artist acknowledges the Moon Temple is a sort of “utopian exercise.” However, he hopes we may create a better, more diverse path into the future by taking part.
“…perhaps through these utopian exercises we can break free from many of our prejudices here on Earth, because we need more diverse personal narratives for our future, a future where we don’t turn our backs to our cultures and the role they play in shaping who we are today,” he says.
Throughout history until today, people have hoarded wealth endlessly while exploiting the vulnerable. When we venture out into space, it’s a chance to break free from this dark and unenlightened cycle.
Will venturing into space allow us to gain perspective about our collective “fragile position in this universe?”
See Jorge Mañes Rubio discuss his vision for the Moon below via TED:
The Artemis Base Camp
Whatever our future may bring, our attempts to colonize other worlds are perhaps inevitable. Right now, plans to set up a lunar outpost on the Moon are set for 2028, after NASA astronauts return in 2024.
At the Moon’s South Pole, the space agency plans to establish the Artemis Base Camp.
At the lunar outpost, astronauts will experience extreme light and darkness. To find resources and protection, they will venture into frigid (-391 degrees Fahrenheit) dark craters to locate frozen water.
During daylight hours, the Sun would skim across the surface of the Moon like a “flashlight laying on a table.”
According to Rubio’s vision, the Astronauts will take time from their hazardous duties to gather in the Moon Temple. There, they will perhaps meditate about their roots on Earth and the diverse ancient cultures that will continue to shape who we are in space.
Before we can start over in space, we will need to pause. Then, hopefully we will remember why there is so much worth saving and so much to change and improve at home.
See more about the Artemis plans below:
Featured images: Screenshots via YouTube/TED