The moon has always held a fascination for us — especially after Neil Armstrong stepped onto its surface, declaring that it was "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." So it makes sense that we still hold the moon dear — enough so that next year, we're sending it some of Earth's greatest art.

A group of faculty and students at Carnegie Mellon University have put together some of the world's best art, poetry, music, drama and dance onto small disks, which they plan on sending aboard a rover next year to the lunar surface.

The rover – the brainchild of the university's Robotics Institute – will compete on the moon for the Google Lunar XPrize, a $30-million contest to land a privately funded robot on the moon. But Carnegie Mellon's robot will bring gifts to the moon, too, in the form of the small disks containing data on Earth's art.

That's not the only thing the university's robot plans on taking: it will also carry evidence of life on Earth, perhaps so future aliens will know we once existed on this blue-and-green planet.

The Moon Arts Ark weighs less than 6 ounces, thanks to some brilliant engineering. That technology also ensures that the ark will make the journey through space and remain functional for millions – maybe even billions – of years. The idea is to leave a lasting visual representation of what life on Earth was once like.

"If this is the next step in space exploration, let's put that exploration into the public consciousness," said Mark Baskinger, co-principal investigator of the Moon Arts Group. "Why not get people to look up and think about our spot in the universe, and think about where we are in the greater scheme of things?"

For those interested in seeing the Moon Arts Ark, the university also plans on creating a replica for viewing here on Earth. Once the ark makes it to the moon next year, the university has plans for exhibitions in Paris and other European cities, as outlined on the Moon Arts Ark website.

"Moon Arts Ark is the life of light, singing to the moon in all its glorious rays, an artistic inspiringly homage to the moon where it becomes a Cultural Heritage Site that anticipates the journey of humanity into luminous outer space," reads the project's website.

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