It is often stated that the derived moduli stack of oriented elliptic curves $mathsf{M}^mathrm{or}_mathrm{ell}$ is the unique lift of the classical moduli stack of elliptic curves satisfying some conditions, meaning the moduli space $Z$ of all such lifts is *connected*. This is mentioned in Theorem 1.1 of Lurie’s “A Survey of Elliptic Cohomology” (Surv), for example.

In Remark 7.0.2 of Lurie’s “Elliptic Cohomology II: Orientations” ((ECII)), Lurie says “…beware, however, that $Z$ is not *contractible*“. In other words, $mathsf{M}^mathrm{or}_mathrm{ell}$ is not the unique lift up to contractible choice (the gold standard of uniqueness in homotopy theory).

(Side note: in (ECII) and (Surv), Lurie is talking about the moduli stack of smooth elliptic curves, but the uniqueness up to homotopy of a derived stack $overline{mathsf{M}}_mathrm{ell}^mathrm{or}$ lifting the compactification of the moduli stack of smooth elliptic curves is also stated in the literature; for example, in Theorem 1.2 of Goerss’ “Topological Modular Forms (after Hopkins, Miller, and Lurie)”. I am interested in the compactified situation mostly, but both are related.)

Although I do not hope that $mathsf{M}^mathrm{or}_mathrm{ell}$ does possess this much stronger form of uniqueness, I would like to understand the reason for this failure:

**Why is the moduli space $Z$ not contractible?** and **Does a similar statement apply in the compactified case?**

To be a little more precise, let $mathcal{O}^mathrm{top}$ be the Goerss–Hopkins–Miller–Lurie sheaf of $mathbf{E}_infty$-rings on the small affine site of the moduli stack of elliptic curves $mathsf{M}_mathrm{ell}$. Denote this site by $mathcal{U}$. The moduli space $Z$ can then be defined as the (homotopy) fibre product

$$Z=mathrm{Fun}(mathcal{U}^{op}, mathrm{CAlg})underset{mathrm{Fun}(mathcal{U}^{op}, mathrm{CAlg}(mathrm{hSp}))}{times}{mathrm{h}mathcal{O}^mathrm{top}},$$

where $mathrm{CAlg}$ is the $infty$-category of $mathbf{E}_infty$-rings, and $mathrm{CAlg(hSp)}$ is the 1-category of commutative monoid objects in the stable homotopy category. The presheaf $mathrm{h}mathcal{O}^mathrm{top}$ can be defined using the Landweber exact functor theorem (at least on elliptic curves whose formal group admits a coordinate), and hence $Z$ can be seen as the moduli space of presheaves of $mathbf{E}_infty$-rings recognising the classical Landweber exact elliptic cohomology theories.

To prove uniqueness up to homotopy, I am aware one should use some arithmetic and chromatic fracture squares to break down the problem into rational, $p$-complete, $K(1)$-local, and $K(2)$-local parts. The $K(2)$-local part of $mathcal{O}^mathrm{top}$ is unique up to contractible choice by the Goerss–Hopkins–Miller theorems surrounding Lubin–Tate spectra (see Chapter 5 of (ECII) for a reference which you might already have open). The $K(1)$-local part also seems to be unique up to contratible choice, as all of the groups occuring in the Goerss–Hopkins obstruction theory vanish (this is discussed at length in Behrens’ “The construction of $tmf$” chapter in the “TMF book” by Douglas et al). Similarly, the rational case also has vanishing obstruction groups; see *ibid*.

I’m then lead to believe that is something *interesting* (being a pseudonym for “I don’t know what’s”) going on in the chromatic/arithmetic fracture squares gluing all this stuff together. **Are their calculable obstructions/invariants to see this? Or otherwise known examples that contradict the contractibility of $Z$?**

Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated!