April Fools' Day jokes are common in many cultures and a lot of the media make up jokey little articles and run them for a bit of fun. There are usually the words 'April Fool' somewhere in the piece, in this case in the author's name.
We had fun with this one, relating it to a bond offering Google had made earlier in the week and suggesting it would be used to fund the advertising campaign just to add realism.
What made it more fun was when we noticed a blogger in a reputable site had rewritten the piece and posted it up as news, nearly two years later, and others had picked it up as fact. You can read more here.
But now it seems the plan to turn the moon into one giant billboard could become a reality. An American company called Moon Publicity has apparently issued a press release promising just this feat.
The company says it will use small, remote controlled robots on the surface to etch adverts in the lunar dust. Over time you could use them to develop a grayscale image of anything the advertiser wants and the moon's lack of atmosphere would guarantee it didn't fade (barring asteroid impact).
I strongly suspect this is a hoax, if a very good one. A lot of details certainly ring false - not least the oddly dull name. There's no mention of how to get these robots safely onto the surface of the moon, how to control them remotely or any hint of any testing done or prototypes built. There's just a price list.
Most importantly there is no mention of one teeny, tiny problem - ownership rights. As the company is apparently based in Utah it is subject to the 1967 UN Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, of which America is a signatory.
So either this is a very bad attempt to con people out of money, someone's bit of fun, or possibly some self-promotion for the man listed as being behind the oddball scheme, David Kent Jones. Since the company hasn't responded to emails as yet, we'll have to wait and see.
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