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Old 08-15-2018, 04:01 PM
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Could I Use The Moon as a Billboard?

Let's say someone invents a ridiculously high powered projector. With this new tech, Coca-cola decide to do a Christmas publicity stunt in which they illuminate the face of the moon with their branding.

Is there an international law that would stop them? What would the penalty be?

Optional extra question: how close are we to the technology needed to achieve this? I'm guessing out powering the sun would be pretty difficult but of course there's always the new moon.
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Old 08-15-2018, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Fiendish Astronaut View Post
Let's say someone invents a ridiculously high powered projector. With this new tech, Coca-cola decide to do a Christmas publicity stunt in which they illuminate the face of the moon with their branding.

Is there an international law that would stop them? What would the penalty be?

Optional extra question: how close are we to the technology needed to achieve this? I'm guessing out powering the sun would be pretty difficult but of course there's always the new moon.
I'm just going to answer the optional question. We are nowhere near capable of doing this. Probably best answered with this 'what-if' xkcd.

https://what-if.xkcd.com/13/
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Old 08-15-2018, 05:29 PM
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Coca-Cola? No, everyone knows that 6+ beat them to it.
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Old 08-15-2018, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Fiendish Astronaut View Post
Let's say someone invents a ridiculously high powered projector. With this new tech, Coca-cola decide to do a Christmas publicity stunt in which they illuminate the face of the moon with their branding....how close are we to the technology needed to achieve this?...
This was discussed here; it doesn't seem remotely possible with current technology.

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...2&postcount=28

Since the above 2006 post, it appears technology for visible light continuous lasers might have improved 2x, to about 1,000 watts. This is still many orders of magnitude lower than required to project a pattern on the dark (or "new") moon which would be visible from earth. Projecting a pattern visible on the lighted part of the moon would be even more difficult.
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Old 08-15-2018, 06:02 PM
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Coca-Cola? No, everyone knows that 6+ beat them to it.
I see what you did there.
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Old 08-15-2018, 06:04 PM
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You might enjoy reading "The Face" by Jack Vance in which someone far away and far into the future does that.
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Old 08-15-2018, 06:11 PM
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How about if we put a satellite in lunar orbit to do the projecting? Is that doable, or at least in any way easier?
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Old 08-15-2018, 07:28 PM
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"The man who sold the moon" by Robert Heinlein
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Old 08-15-2018, 07:31 PM
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I think we're enough posts in that I can observe that a "Fiendish Astronaut" is wondering about profitable uses for the moon.

Well played, NASA man. Well played.
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Old 08-15-2018, 08:25 PM
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Even if we had the technology to do it, I would think the FAA wouldn't be happy about it...
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Old 08-15-2018, 08:53 PM
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Coca-Cola? No, everyone knows that 6+ beat them to it.
Dammit.
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Old 08-15-2018, 08:55 PM
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Coca-Cola? No, everyone knows that 6+ beat them to it.
That's why when I saw a story titled "6+" I knew just how the plot was going to be resolved.

Now in a Fredric Brown story, someone used the stars for a billboard.
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Old 08-15-2018, 09:09 PM
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Arthur C. Clarke's Venture To The Moon tells how a scientific experiment conducted on the moon - creating a giant sodium cloud that is made luminescent by the sun's rays and visible from Earth - is sabotaged by "the greatest advertising coup" in history. The cloud takes the shape of a product's logo. The product isn't directly named but contains a number of C's and O's.

Fiendish, I'm guessing this inspired your question, right?
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Old 08-15-2018, 09:44 PM
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You'll have to erase the giant "CHA" that's already on there first.
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Old 08-15-2018, 10:10 PM
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Does anyone else remember a news story from some years back about Pizza Hut wanting to etch their logo into the moon with a giant laser?
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Old 08-15-2018, 11:57 PM
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That's why when I saw a story titled "6+" I knew just how the plot was going to be resolved.
Did someone actually write a story with that title?

Quote:
Now in a Fredric Brown story, someone used the stars for a billboard.
Buy1 Jupiter, you're right. That's not just a pie in the sky.



1 Not a typo. Who gets this one?2

2 More stories on this theme.

Last edited by dtilque; 08-15-2018 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:29 AM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is online now
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I don't understand this 6+ thing. Could someone explain, please.

(I'm British, BTW. Maybe a part of American popular culture that isn't well known over here.)


And, yes, I've read Asimov's Buy Jupiter.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:31 AM
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Does it matter that it’s not physically possible right now? OP's question is within a context where it is feasible.
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Old 08-16-2018, 12:54 AM
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I don't understand this 6+ thing. Could someone explain, please.
In Robert Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon, Harriman is going all out to raise funds for his moon shot. He cons the CEO of Moka-Cola into contributing by entering his office wearing a lapel pin for 6+, his main competitor. Harriman claims that 6+ (name based on 7-up, the soft drink) has offered money to place their logo on the moon with carbon black. So the CEO pays more for Harriman to not do that.
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Old 08-16-2018, 01:26 AM
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Thanks for the info.
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Old 08-16-2018, 05:29 AM
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You might enjoy reading "The Face" by Jack Vance in which someone far away and far into the future does that.
Well, kind of.

SPOILER:
Lens Larque sculpts the entire surface into an image of his great Darsh face.
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Old 08-16-2018, 05:44 AM
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You might enjoy reading "The Face" by Jack Vance in which someone far away and far into the future does that.
Thanks exactly what I was thinking. Was that explosives? Must read the Demon Princes series again.
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Old 08-16-2018, 06:24 AM
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Did someone actually write a story with that title?



Buy1 Jupiter, you're right. That's not just a pie in the sky.



1 Not a typo. Who gets this one?2

2 More stories on this theme.
"6+" http://turtledove.wikia.com/wiki/6%2B

I remember "Buy Jupiter" - it turned out that Saturn was a better buy.
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Old 08-16-2018, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Fiendish Astronaut View Post
Let's say someone invents a ridiculously high powered projector. With this new tech, Coca-cola decide to do a Christmas publicity stunt in which they illuminate the face of the moon with their branding.

Is there an international law that would stop them? What would the penalty be?

Optional extra question: how close are we to the technology needed to achieve this? I'm guessing out powering the sun would be pretty difficult but of course there's always the new moon.
On the question of whether we could do this, see the thread Projecting an image on to the moon.
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Old 08-16-2018, 07:33 AM
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A Slate article about space advertising. The Japanese Moon billboard company has raised quite a bit of money ... but nowhere enough to really do anything. And its billboards won't be visible to ordinary people.

Big sheets of mylar or some such in Earth orbit are another thing. But even then the effect of micro-meteors and space junk ripping it up will quickly ruin it.

These schemes can be limited by national laws. The US has a space advertising law but it's sort of wishy washy and could easily be repealed. It's the SpaceX/Virgin Galactic type companies getting cozy with a Pacific mini-nation that could be a problem.

The damage to astronomy and the increased amount of orbital space junk won't deter people looking to make money.
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Old 08-16-2018, 07:45 AM
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Does it matter that it’s not physically possible right now? OP's question is within a context where it is feasible.
This. I would like to know if it would be legal to do it.
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Old 08-16-2018, 11:38 AM
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This. I would like to know if it would be legal to do it.
To my knowledge there are no advertising or "space use" laws that would govern an earthbound laser drawing an advertising image on the moon -- assuming that could be done, which appears impossible with current or near-future technology.

There is a law limiting "obtrusive space advertising" IF launched from earth as a physical payload. IOW no giant orbital billboards visible without a telescope: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/51/50911

The OP scenario was strictly about illuminating the moon via a ground-based device on earth -- not about launching advertising payloads into space.

However, making a visible image on the moon using an earth-based laser would require a device thousands or millions of times more powerful than anything existing. If such a device could be constructed, that power level, pointing accuracy and adaptive optics would also make it a fantastically lethal weapon. In that case it would probably be quickly limited by national authorities before it ever went on line -- not due to advertising laws but because private entities cannot legally own and use weapons of mass destruction.
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Old 08-16-2018, 01:31 PM
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I imagine if you could pull it off, if it wasn't illegal, it soon would be.

I can't imagine many people would take kindly to it.
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Old 08-16-2018, 03:05 PM
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I imagine if you could pull it off, if it wasn't illegal, it soon would be.

I can't imagine many people would take kindly to it.
Right, because as was said above, if you actually had a laser powerful enough to draw a visible image on the moon, it would be a weapon of mass destruction comparable in power to a nuclear bomb.
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Old 08-16-2018, 03:24 PM
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Right, because as was said above, if you actually had a laser powerful enough to draw a visible image on the moon, it would be a weapon of mass destruction comparable in power to a nuclear bomb.
For the sake of the intent of this thread, lets pretend that a genie gave you a MAGIC projector that was capable of projecting an image onto the surface of the moon that would be visible with the naked eye back here on Earth, and said MAGIC projector was incapable of being used as a weapon. Using this MAGIC projector, would it be illegal to project this image onto the moon?
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Old 08-16-2018, 06:04 PM
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... Using this MAGIC projector, would it be illegal to project this image onto the moon?
There is no current law about using a projector, laser or magic to illuminate an advertisement on the moon's surface. There is only a U.S. (not international) law against launching a *payload* for "obtrusive space advertising", generally interpreted as something visible to the naked eye. The intention was to prevent things like 1 km square mylar billboards in low earth orbit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_advertising

That law is solely a U.S. law limited by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation's authority to regulate commercial space launch vehicles. To my knowledge there is no similar international treaty in force, nor any law about space advertising which does not require a launch vehicle to achieve.
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Old 08-16-2018, 06:38 PM
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I remember a 2000AD cartoon - likely Judge Dredd - where some rich guy bought a few seconds of having a picture on the moon as a romantic gesture.
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:32 AM
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Relatedly, in the animated The Tick, villain Chairface Chippendale tried to carve his name on the moon with a superlaser, and got a third of the way through before being stopped. Behold!

Last edited by jimmosk; 08-17-2018 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 08-17-2018, 09:40 AM
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Smapti beat you to that, in post 14.
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:56 AM
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On a slightly smaller scale, the documentary Racing Extinction featured this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
The filmmakers also work with Obscura Digital to design a custom Tesla Model S fitted with a 15,000 lumen projector system to project images of critically endangered and extinct species onto public buildings including Shell factories, Wall Street, Headquarters of the United Nations, the Empire State Building and the Vatican.
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:18 PM
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Cobra Commander put his face on the moon with a giant laser in one of the 1980's G.I. Joe cartoons.
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Old 08-17-2018, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris View Post
Arthur C. Clarke's Venture To The Moon tells how a scientific experiment conducted on the moon - creating a giant sodium cloud that is made luminescent by the sun's rays and visible from Earth - is sabotaged by "the greatest advertising coup" in history. The cloud takes the shape of a product's logo. The product isn't directly named but contains a number of C's and O's.

Fiendish, I'm guessing this inspired your question, right?


No actually, it was just a thought I had and I'm sure millions of people have independently had the same thought. Although maybe I heard about the book sometime and I had retained some subconscious memory of it.

To avoid all nitpickery, let's imagine the logo just appears on the moon. Illuminated like a full moon but with a company's branding shining out as bright as a logo on a TV advert. The company admits to commissioning it, refuses to say how they've achieved it, and - despite outrage from across the world including from every major religious leader - insist they will not take it down. Are they breaking any laws or not?

If I'm reading the responses correctly - and thank you for them - it looks like they aren't except via some indirect method such as the possession of killer lasers and suchlike.

No doubt laws would be created adapted or reinterpreted in short order.

Anyway, thought it would be fun to explore. The first reply alone, with the xkcd link, gave me all the joy I could ask for!
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:44 PM
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Anyone capable of creating a logo thousands of miles across that is brighter than the reflected sunlight on the moon doesn't have to worry about laws. They can simply overthrow every government on Earth and become absolute rulers.
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Old 08-17-2018, 11:27 PM
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I remember an old comic book with space stories. Due to sunspots or something, all TV broadcasting on Earth became impossible. The solution was to project programs onto the surface of the Moon. Three channels were projected simultaneously: drama, comedy, and news. With special glasses, you could view one channel and filter out the others.
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Old 08-18-2018, 07:56 AM
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Man, that'd be a tiny screen to watch TV on.
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Old 08-18-2018, 08:49 AM
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"6+" http://turtledove.wikia.com/wiki/6%2B

I remember "Buy Jupiter" - it turned out that Saturn was a better buy.
In one of his anthologies, Asimov reveals that the title wssn’t his idea (surprising, given his love of puns.) He had called the story “It Pays,” which he acknowledged was “an utterly undistinguished title.” One of Campbell’s editors suggested “Buy Jupiter,” and he instantly agreed.
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Old 08-18-2018, 01:43 PM
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In one of his anthologies, Asimov reveals that the title wssn’t his idea (surprising, given his love of puns.) He had called the story “It Pays,” which he acknowledged was “an utterly undistinguished title.” One of Campbell’s editors suggested “Buy Jupiter,” and he instantly agreed.
Asimov sometimes got better titles from his editors - like "Dirty Pool" instead of "The Billiard Ball" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Billiard_Ball
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Old 08-19-2018, 01:17 AM
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Not Earth-based, but a similar attempt: https://www.gocomics.com/perry-bible...hip/2018/08/15
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Old 08-20-2018, 04:19 PM
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Unless the technology is ultra secret someone else will project their own image on the moon, covering or altering the first one, no? Rinse, repeat until the entire face of the moon becomes a brighter white.

I wonder if some big company can launch a bunch of satellites into a synchronous orbit of the moon, large enough to be seen through binoculars and positioned to draw the company's logo as seen from Earth (or cast shadows on the moon). That would make a big talking point, annoy astronomers but not the average person.
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Old 08-20-2018, 04:33 PM
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I wonder if some big company can launch a bunch of satellites into a synchronous orbit of the moon, large enough to be seen through binoculars and positioned to draw the company's logo as seen from Earth (or cast shadows on the moon).

No. There are many engineering and basic physics things wrong with that proposal.
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Old 08-20-2018, 05:27 PM
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Man, that'd be a tiny screen to watch TV on.
Yeah, about like watching a 1.5 inch screen from 15 feet away.
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