A coun­try house that’s all about space

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

On most evenings, An­gela La­mont can see the Moon clearly from her back gar­den. She lives in the vil­lage of Hel­li­don, in Northamp­ton­shire, from where even the dis­tant bod­ies of the Milky Way are vis­i­ble.

No mat­ter that her home stands 250,000 miles from the lu­nar glow, there are barely 170 peo­ple in the vil­lage and, in to­tal, they gen­er­ate nowhere near enough man-made light to ob­scure the nightly dis­play.

For the past 14 years, she has lived in this hand­some 17th­cen­tury house. And for the last three years, she has been help­ing to or­gan­ise a space ex­pe­di­tion that will en­able large num­bers of peo­ple, if not to travel to the Moon, at least to lodge their life story deep within its sur­face.

The ex­pe­di­tion is called Lu­nar Mission One and, along with many oth­ers, An­gela is putting to­gether a dig­i­tal file of her life to be in­serted into the core of the Moon once the space mod­ule has landed.

“Peo­ple are col­lect­ing all sorts of pho­to­graphs and doc­u­ments about them­selves, their favourite mu­sic, their fam­ily tree and where they live,” says An­gela. “On top of which, they can also in­sert a tiny bit of hair, from the root end, with a bit of DNA at­tached.

“We reckon that con­di­tions are right to al­low what­ever is put there to sur­vive for a bil­lion years.”

What’s more, this is not just a piece of in­ter­ga­lac­tic coloni­sa­tion. For, in the true spirit of eco-space­ex­plo­ration, the Lu­nar Mission One project is go­ing to take away from the Moon ex­actly the amount of rock (or pos­si­bly green cheese) that it takes to make the hole in which the data is in­serted.

“The aim is to dis­cover ex­actly what the Moon is made of,” says An­gela, an ex­pe­ri­enced sci­en­tific jour­nal­ist and con­fer­ence speaker.

“What you find ly­ing on the sur­face of the Moon does not give us a true pic­ture. We need to drill down deep into the core. We won’t be mak­ing a big hole, but it will be quite a deep one, as much as 20 me­tres down.

“The thing is, the Moon has fas­ci­nated mankind since the be­gin­ning of time. Even to­day, with all our sci­en­tific and tech­ni­cal ad­vances, we still don’t know ex­actly what it’s made of.

“Of course, there have been many the­o­ries, but the one we are look­ing at now is the idea that the Moon might ac­tu­ally be a bit of the Earth, sep­a­rated when some gi­ant ob­ject slammed into us, some 4.5 bil­lion years ago.”

And the best way to test that the­ory is for an un­manned probe to travel up to the largely un­ex­plored south pole area of the Moon, to in­ves­ti­gate set­ting up an ob­ser­va­tory and to dig right into the sur­face, to see if, deep down, it’s made of the same stuff as the Earth.

The probe may not be that large (6ft by 6ft is the size en­vis­aged), but the cost of get­ting it up there is, well, strato­spheric, and lift-off is not an­tic­i­pated un­til 2024.

As yet, it re­mains to be seen which space bod­ies come up with how much money, and where the launch will be staged. That said, An­gela and her col­leagues have al­ready been hard at work fir­ing up en­thu­si­asm, and, thanks to a world­wide in­ter­net Kick­starter cam­paign, 7,000 peo­ple from 70 dif­fer­ent coun­tries have paid a to­tal of £700,000 to have their dig­i­tal data planted in the Moon’s sur­face.

A galaxy of sci­en­tific heavy­weights have lent their sup­port to the project. Names in­clude tele­vi­sion sci­en­tist Brian Cox, for­mer Science Min­is­ter Ian Tay­lor and Pro­fes­sor Stephen Hawk­ing.

“I have no doubt that young peo­ple and adults alike will be in­spired by the am­bi­tion and pas­sion of all those in­volved in the project,” says Pro­fes­sor Hawk­ing. “As a truly sci­en­tific en­deav­our, I wish it noth­ing but suc­cess.”

As well as hav­ing her eyes fixed a quar­ter of a mil­lion miles up in the night sky, An­gela La­mont is pre­oc­cu­pied with more down-toearth mat­ters, such as the sale of her house.

It may not be as old as the Moon, but in earth­bound terms it has a pretty lengthy his­tory. The slate on the out­side wall records that it was built in 1671, with a later ad­di­tion in Vic­to­rian times.

And although it has cen­tral heat­ing, the thick­ness of the ex­te­rior walls (up to 3ft) bear wit­ness to a time when the best way to keep out the cold was with solid ma­sonry.

In­deed, when you ven­ture in­side Hill­side House, you step back two or three cen­turies, with ceil­ing beams the size of ships’ masts, floors made of stone or oak and many open fire­places.

That said, there are also seven bed­rooms, plus an ul­tra-mod­ern bath­room and a kitchen that comes out of the 21st rather than the 17th cen­tury.

“It’s a mar­vel­lously friendly vil­lage, and a won­der­ful place to bring up chil­dren,” says An­gela. “Ev­ery­one meets at the Red Lion pub [100 yards away] and there is al­ways some event go­ing on.”

As demon­strated by the vil­lage newsletter, full of an­nounce­ments re­gard­ing ev­ery­thing from lit­ter picks to gar­den fes­ti­vals. There will, she says, be plenty to put in her dig­i­tal mem­ory box, about the happy 14 years she has spent here.

“At the same time, though,” she says, eyes stray­ing to the heav­ens, “I’m as keen as ev­ery­one else on this project to solve the mys­tery of the Moon. Ev­ery­one is rush­ing off to Mars, but we can’t es­cape the fact that, wher­ever you live on Earth, the Moon is our near­est neigh­bour.”

Hill­side House is on sale for £700,000, through Strutt and Parker, 01295 273592, strut­tand­parker.com. For more about the mission to the Moon, and how to get in­volved, see lu­n­armis­sionone.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.