I am an awesome, famous, self-made billionaire - I started with a mere \$300 million and amassed that into over $4 billion in only 40 years (an amazing 6.75% return).

Everyone loves me - the blacks, the Hispanics, the Jews all love me. People love seeing my name everywhere - on Casinos, Golf Courses, Skype-like video phones, hotels, pyramid schemes, matresses...

I want people to enjoy seeing my name as much as possible.

What's the best way to put my name on the moon? I want to give people the pleasure of being able to look up and see my name on the moon as much as possible.

Should I send someone up with a bulldozer to carve my name in the dirt or send a satellite to write my name with a "laser"?

What would it take to make my name visible on the moon and what % of the time will my name be visible?

It should be visible in the night, day or both. Final choice will be determined by what percent it is visible and the total cost.

Additional considerations will be made for the ability to change it to display logos when desired.

  • $\begingroup$ What's your budget? Surely not your entire $4 billion fortune. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Oct 1 '15 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ It's currently open. I'm not unwilling to waste my entire fortune on a stupid idea - but I am hoping to somehow have investors pay for the whole thing. Assume money is not an object - that's why I'm requesting proposals (RFP). $\endgroup$ Oct 1 '15 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ And your name will easily become the most hated name on the planet. Are you sure? $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Oct 1 '15 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ I am lazy to do numbers, so I'll just brainstorm and see if someone gets a Budget. Sunlight lensing. Put a number of satellites in orbit, with big lenses or parabollic reflecting antenas. Reflect sunlight so that the focus of the vean is just on Moon surface. Burn/melt lunar dust with such a ray to change its color/albedo. The problem is it won't be fancy (will not change at will), and may take some time to finish (since rays are relatively thin, you will have to make many cycles of "writting"). Since the Moon surface is static, there is no risk of rain/wind changing your design. $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Oct 1 '15 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ My suggestion is that you not worry much about the cost, just get the Mexican government to pay for it. $\endgroup$
    – Deolater
    Oct 1 '15 at 22:24

First of all, $4 billion seems like a small amount -- it got Elon Musk barely to the edge of space. But let's first see how far we would get with near-unlimited money (say the US government would like to print "USA" on the moon).

I like @SJuan76 's idea of mirrors, however I don't think you can "burn" moon rock. Even if there was carbon in there (the main cause of things turning black when burned) there is no oxygen to actually burn it. Perhaps given enough light and time you could "sculpt" the moon into a name by melting away moonstone in certain places, but I don't think we want to take THAT long.

First problem I see is that one has to decide whether to have the message visible in dark (new moon) of light (full moon).

Let's aim for the sky and build something that shines so bright that it outshines (and hence still is readable) at full moon. I did some calculations and was actually surprised that it's not completely implausible energy-wise: you need the energy budget of something like Switzerland, and with there likely being uranium on the moon, it might just work (provided you feel like getting all those lamps up there, and having someone change out the LED-bulbs every time they fail).

This calculation also puts a lower bound on the energy needs of beaming an image up there to reflect on the moon's surface using lasers/mirrors/etc.

However once we start shipping such huge amounts of equipment up to the moon, it may just be easier to paint our letters on there in some reflective paint. 10% of the front of the moon = 4 * PI * moon_radius ** 2 / 2 * 0.1 ≈ 2 million sqkm.. Even if we could buy the paint for the incredibly low price of \$1 per square meter, the paint alone would come to \$2 trillion, so the paint alone would increase the national debt by about 5% (and then I'm skipping over how to get it to stick to moondust).

Coming back to the idea on how to get your name in the sky on a budget, I think there is a much better solution. The moon has a diameter of about 3500 km at a distance of about 400,000 km. The ISS on the other hand is at only 400 km; much cheaper to put things up there, and they will look much bigger. At that distance you "only" need to unfold a painted solar-sail type thing of 3.5km square to get the same visual effect. Since you can launch something into space these days for a couple of tens of millions, I recon this would fit within your budget a lot better.

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    $\begingroup$ The maria are different in appearance, so melting the rock does have a different look. But it's all covered with dust now: fusing the top layer to make a smooth surface, rather than the spectrally rough regalith grains, will change the appearance. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Oct 5 '15 at 6:16

You're gonna need a bigger Moon.

"Normal" visual acuity is defined as the ability to resolve features one arc-minute across. At the Moon's distance, this corresponds to a minimum feature size of 112 km. Using a tightly-spaced typeface to write your name requires a surface 4928 km across to write "Hannover Fist", somewhat larger than the Moon's 3476-km diameter.

But let's ignore that. What would it take to write the smallest possible visible letter on the Moon?

Writing a minimally-sized "H" requires modifying about 63,000 square kilometers of surface to produce a 336 km by 336 km letter.

We're working at the edge of human visual acuity here, so we want high contrast. Simply bulldozing your name in the Moon won't work — you'll get a contrast change of a few percent at best. You'll want to write your name using something either exceptionally black or exceptionally white (the Moon being a sort of medium grey, either one will work).

At the dark end of things, carbon black is a cheap option, and reasonably low density. Coating the surface with a layer a tenth of a millimeter thick requires about 6,272,000 cubic meters, or about 1.3 million metric tons, about 15% of the world's annual production. Lifting it to the Moon, assuming that somebody's commercial launcher can actually deliver on the promised \$2000 per kilogram, will cost around $2.6 trillion, a bit over budget.

At the light end, there aren't really any materials similar to carbon black's fluffy, powdery composition. Titanium dioxide, for example, has a density 20 times that of carbon black.

Non-powder options aren't that good, either. Black HDPE film, for example, has a density five times that of carbon black, and even thin sheets are around a tenth of a millimeter thick.

  • $\begingroup$ Celtschk's comment to another answer notes that graphite dust is the same darkness as the moon. Is lamp-black (the common name for the pigment use of carbon black) darker than plain graphite? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Oct 5 '15 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz, very much so. Carbon black is one of the darkest pigments in common use. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Oct 5 '15 at 6:22

In an old story, the plan to put a simple logo on the moon involved rockets delivering graphite dust. The logo was, IIRC, a "7" in a circle, and the moon was said to be about the same apparent size as a inch-sized pin worn by someone: I figure 10 or 12 feet away actually.

It was plausible enough in the story, at the time. I'm sure it would suffer from scale if he tried to do it, but the story was skillfully done and gave the impression that he had the resources without being distracting.

Having few strokes helps. Being realistic about the material quantity, it would best be done using space-bourne resources. How about if it occurs in conjunction with commercial development of the moon?

Maybe the mining and supply roads are leaving visible marks anyway, and he wants to write his name using those processes. In doing so he will develop the resources on the moon and make a huge profit and open a new chapter in human industry. The letters could be made from solar panels, mine tailings or strip mining sites, railroads, etc.

It could be a re-imagining of Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon.

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    $\begingroup$ Of course graphite dust is a bad choice as the reflectivity of the moon is about the same as that of graphite. White paint would probably be more effective (especially since it would outshine the surrounding moon surface). $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Oct 4 '15 at 9:50
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it was lamp_black or something; it was a long time since I read it. Mark's answer notes lamp-black (carbon black) indirectly has an albedo of 0. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Oct 5 '15 at 6:13

Dig trenches, really deep so that they cast a dark shadow (like the craters, but darker). You would probably need to do this with explosives, and it would quickly become very expensive. But that's okay, just get Mexico to pay for it! :P


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