Should the Moon Landing Site Be a National Historic Landmark?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Winston, Jul 11, 2019.

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  1. Jul 11, 2019 #1

    Winston

    Winston

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    Kinda' obvious, PR-friendly and magnanimous solution: Work to get it designated as an INTERNATIONAL historic landmark.

    Should the Moon Landing Site Be a National Historic Landmark?
    Some archaeologists argue it’s essential to preserve the history of lunar exploration. But would it represent a claim of U.S. sovereignty over the moon?

    https://daily.jstor.org/should-the-moon-landing-site-be-a-national-historic-landmark/

    When Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, the pictures sent to Earth captured a historical moment: It was the first time that any human set foot on another body in our solar system. Fifty years later, experts are debating how to preserve humankind’s first steps beyond Earth. Could a National Park on the moon be the solution to saving Armstrong’s bootprints for future archaeologists?

    Flags, rovers, laser-reflecting mirrors, footprint—these are just a few of the dozens of artifacts and features that bear witness to our exploration of the moon. Archaeologists argue that these objects are a record to trace the development of humans in space. “Surely, those footprints are as important as those left by hominids at Laetoli, Tanzania, in the story of human development,” the anthropologist P.J. Capelotti wrote in Archaeology. While the oldest then known examples of hominins walking on two feet were cemented in ash 3.6 million years ago, “those at Tranquility Base could be swept away with a casual brush of a space tourist’s hand.”

    But how to preserve and protect human artifacts on the moon? In 1999, the anthropologist Beth O’Leary, with the Lunar Legacy Project, proposed that Tranquility Base become a National Historic Landmark. As a first step, the group of archaeologists, curators, and physicists documented artifacts in Tranquility Base for a preliminary archaeological site plan. However, when O’Leary approached NASA, she was rebuffed: “taking steps to preserve it would be perceived as a U.S. claim of sovereignty over the Moon,” according to Roger Launius, a former NASA chief historian.

    All attempts to protect sites on the moon have to grapple with space law. At the height of the Space Race, in 1967, the Outer Space Treaty was drafted, ratified, and came into force. “Both the United States and the Soviet Union feared that the other nation would claim sovereignty over a celestial body such as the moon, place weapons there, and exclude the other from those same privileges by virtue of being first,” Kyle Ellis writes in the Fordham Environmental Law Review. The treaty prohibits states from owning territory on the moon. “Space junk,” however, continues to belong to the state that sent the craft or equipment into space.

    This leaves space custodians with a conundrum, writes Capelotti (the anthropologist). “If the U.S. owns the archaeological remains of Apollo 11 but not the ground underneath it, how to protect the former without disturbing the latter? Does America own Neil Armstrong’s famous first footprints on the Moon but not the lunar dust in which they were recorded?”

    Even though it was U.S. citizens who left their bootprints on the moon, protecting them needs to be an international effort. It only takes a careless brush of a space tourist’s hand to disturb the fragile traces. And the solution should bring as many nations as possible on board, from those likely to reach the moon to those who will share in the joy of seeing a citizen of the same Earth set foot on the moon again. After all, the plaque left by Armstrong and Aldrin reads: “We came in peace for all mankind.”

    Abandoned in Place: Interpreting the U.S. Material Culture of the Moon Race

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.152...ric-landmark&seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
     
  2. Jul 11, 2019 #2

    BBowmaster

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    It’s a symptom of our current culture that we have so many people worried about this. So long as protecting the past doesn’t get in the way of the future I’ll accept it.
     
  3. Jul 11, 2019 #3

    SDramstad

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    Can you have a National Historic Landmark that is not inside of your national territory?
     
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  4. Jul 12, 2019 #4

    boatgeek

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    This is a situation that cries out for a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
     
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  5. Jul 12, 2019 #5

    afadeev

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    Indeed.

    If somehow "yes", I would suggest assigning NHL status to all of my favorite beach and skiing destinations outside of the US.
    That will show them who is the boss!

    a
     
  6. Jul 12, 2019 #6

    BABAR

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    As opposed to Mt Everest which despite its remoteness has so much traffic that it apparently IS getting trashed, I think it is going to be Looooooong time if ever before we have so many people at Tranquility base that it needs to be marked or protected or pretty much anything.

    For that matter, is there ANY site on the moon that is so interesting we would want or need to go to the same spot TWICE?
     
  7. Jul 12, 2019 #7

    samb

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    boatgeek has it right, UN site or nothing. I think that whoever gets back there could even argue salvage rights. The USA had the high ground but gave it up for a variety of reasons.
     
  8. Jul 12, 2019 #8

    JStarStar

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    Ironically, establishing a no-trespass perimeter around Tranquility Base or any other lunar locations would effectively order that no one should ever look at them.

    Even low level photography by some kind of hovering "drone" would be no good because the exhaust gases from any kind of hovering vehicle would disturb the regolith blanket as well as the footprints.

    A UN designation is the logical answer.
     
  9. Jul 12, 2019 #9

    boatgeek

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    There is a proposal out there to visit one of the Apollo sites with a lander plus two rovers. Even if they didn't intend to disturb the site, there could be a landing accident like Beresheet that could do a lot of damage.

    Based on an article in the paper this morning, UNESCO normally only takes nominations from countries for sites within their territories. However, with a little creativity and cooperation (eg asking to protect Chinese and Russians rover landing sites), the UN itself could probably propose protection for a site on the moon. If it were me in charge, I'd try to get a resolution through the General Assembly that reaffirms that the Moon doesn't belong to any nation and we just want to protect the heritage sites. No doubt many people are happy it's not me in charge. :)
     
  10. Jul 12, 2019 #10

    Bat-mite

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    I think it should be, but only if the general public can visit.
     
  11. Jul 12, 2019 #11

    K'Tesh

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    No... It should be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
     
  12. Jul 12, 2019 #12

    JStarStar

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    I'd say establish a perimeter of one km radius around the landing site.

    Although ultimately it all comes down to the honor system anyway, unless you're going to station "moon police" up there to keep people out.
     
  13. Jul 12, 2019 #13

    SDramstad

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    At least thats something for the "Space Force" to do......
     
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  14. Jul 12, 2019 #14

    Wallace

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    Nothing a liberal coating of CA wouldn't solve...
     
  15. Jul 12, 2019 #15

    BABAR

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    Headline:

    Israel Drops Beresheet on Apollo Site in Sea of Tranquility.
    Film at Eleven.
     
  16. Jul 12, 2019 #16

    Wallace

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    Thanks for forcing me to improve my vocabulary...
     
  17. Jul 12, 2019 #17

    Marc_G

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    I think reasonable steps should be taken to preserve the site, at such time as each step makes sense. Right now, designating it a UNESCO or other type of heritage site makes sense. Encouraging future landings to be sufficiently far away to reduce risk, makes sense. Beyond that, it will probably be many decades before anything else is needed or practical. Nobody is going for joyrides to the moon anytime soon.
     
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  18. Jul 14, 2019 at 2:36 AM #18

    Nytrunner

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    For an expanded definition of "World"
     
  19. Jul 14, 2019 at 3:14 AM #19

    dhbarr

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    Worlds Heritage Site, fixed it.
     

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