Historic defenders hope that the upcoming anniversary of Apollo 11's landing in the summer will convince the United Nations to do something to protect the prints of Neil Armstrong in the lunar dust.
Boot marks are still there, after all, along with other precious artifacts from the first steps of humanity onto another world. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left instruments and scientific equipment, a sign with the inscription "We came in peace for all mankind" and the American flag, which was probably bleached with five decades of raw ultraviolet light.
the dusting of the moon soil or the accidental impact of micrometeorites, the base of tranquility was an intact capsule over time as astronauts left – although this may change as more nations and even commercial companies begin exploring the moon. This is a really difficult topic, "says Michel Hanson, a law professor and space law expert at the University of Mississippi, co-founder of For All Moonkind, a nonprofit group dedicated to the protection of historical objects in space.
Last week, she put the matter to the UN in what she considered the first time this issue was raised there. In a statement to the UN Commission Subcommittee on Peaceful Space Usage, Hanlon told the group that the landing site of Apollo 11 is a cultural heritage similar to UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the Egyptian pyramids or the Chinese Great Wall.
Any nation can identify a place in its sovereign territory to be included in the World Heritage List, she explains. The problem with the moon is that under the 1967 Space Treaty, no nation can claim sovereignty over everything in space.
This legal area is the reason why Henlon would ask the UN to make a statement stating that the Apollo 11 landing place has an incomparable cultural value that deserves special recognition.
The question is whether the parties will be willing to agree on this kind of little step to preserve or whether they will abandon the creation of a precedent for introducing a part of its group also wants the panel to similarly recognize the Soviet spacecraft " Moon 2 ", the first object created by a person who has ever reached another celestial body. He still sits on the moon surface after he touched 60 years ago this September.
Henlon says a Chinese delegate turned to her immediately after his speech to learn more, and that her organization would do extra work at another subcommittee meeting in April. Its purpose is to get a statement when the full space committee is gathered in June.
"I have a very strong team of lawyers from many different countries to be there in April, and I think we can do really good efforts to do that," says Hanson. "What we need to do is find a country wishing to sponsor our mission if you wish. "
" I think they have just as good a chance as anybody else, "says Lisa Vestewood, an archaeologist at California University, Chico, who is interested in preserving lunar story over a decade. "I think their hearts are in the right place work very, very difficult to try to achieve some sort of international consensus. They are sure to speak with the right people. "
Efforts to preserve the historical locations of the Moon are back at least until 1998. Then Beth O'Leary has taught a New Mexico seminar on federal and state laws that protect archaeological and A student, Ralph Gibson, asked her if the federal conservation laws were applicable to the moon. "" You know, you get a good question, you have to do it, "he remembers, O'Reilly
So far, the early advocates of the historical preservation of the moon have found the artifacts and objects in the base of peace in the state archives in New Mexico and California. "It's symbolic in nature," says O'Leary. "She recognizes the history of space and the archaeological data of cosmic history."
The space treaty, she notes, states that nations retain ownership of any objects or structures they place on the moon, so nobody, for example, can walk with the US flag. But that would not protect the prints of Apollo's astronauts.
"I do not think anybody will claim that this is not a significant, important event that shakes the Earth in the history of humanity," says O'Leary. and all humanity is involved. "She is an exchange student in high school living in a foster family in Norway when the astronauts land on July 20, 1969. She remembers watching the news broadcast on a black-and-white TV when the speakers spoke in Norwegian
no one has ever tried to protect all the cultural artifacts of the moon before, it's not clear how to preserve them .
But some thought has come into this because a group formed by NASA has made recommendations , that "cosmic factors" could follow voluntarily if they entered the moon. The recommendations state areas around fragile sites that should not be loaded with rubers, for example, and warn of physical touch of hardware without prior permission from NASA
These recommendations were created in response to the X Lunar X Award, which began in 2007 and offered a cash prize for the first privately-funded effort that successfully unloads a robot spacecraft on the Moon. He offered a huge bonus if the spacecraft could broadcast images or video from one of Apollo's many landing sites, which alarmed some experts for the possibility of unintentional destruction.
I contacted some of the companies that were competing for the Google Lunar X Prize, "recalls Philip Meetzer, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida, at which time Metzger was at NASA, studying the blasting effects of lunar landings Apollo, and he and his colleagues found that landings created surprisingly strong explosions of sand and dust. "[The companies] wanted to visit Apollo's sites during these missions, and they did not want to make guns and destroy Apollo's sites. "
Metzger knew this was a real danger In 1969, the Apollo 12 astronauts landed 160 meters from the Surveyor spacecraft, which had been on the Moon for several years, and the astronauts approached and dropped some parts of the vessel to bring them home for analysis to see how the moon environment affected the equipment. "Well, the most important thing we found was that he was sandblasting as crazy by unloading Apollo's moon," says Metser.
It was a shock because NASA thought it had gone far enough for the robot spacecraft to be safe. But Surveyor III suffered so much damage that he changed his color, passing from white to brown, as the small pieces of moon soil crashed on his surface. And Surveyor III was even spared from the worst of the damage because he was in a crater and protected from the main spray of debris.
Since then, Metzger says they have analyzed videos showing that Apollo's landings can throw away gravel and even rocks at high speed. "If you land within 100 meters of something sensible, there can definitely be a bad day when you hit it with a rock at 50 miles an hour," he says.
In fact, computer modeling shows that it is impossible to have a large landing. on the Moon, without causing any degree of damage from all the dust and rock that is stirring – and this makes it difficult for the NASA group to come up with recommendations on how future missions should go forward without harming Apollo's treasures. "Every time you land on the moon within 100 kilometers, you will suffer a little damage," says Metsger, "and so we faced this impossible question of how far it would be good to land your rocket on the moon
The group in the final an account agreed to leave the landings about two kilometers from Apollo's sites – "The border has nothing to do with real science," Mezger notes, "It's just a number we figured out because at that time we could not do anything good. "
He says it is important to keep access to the site "We want people to visit these sites and send images, not only for the scientific value but also for the cultural value so that people can see again that we have visited the moon, and that will inspire people to want to go back.
Archaeologists and historians have been busy compiling lists of each human artifact on the moon and there are many of them. Astronauts from the Apollo reduced the weight of their vehicle by throwing everything out of the door they did not need before returning home: hammers, towels, cameras. "They created just before they left, a thrown area, scattered artifacts," says Westwood, who says more than 100 sites have been inventoried at the base of tranquility.
believes that one of the most interesting things about Apollo's landing places is human excrement bags.
"I think the most important thing on the moon will be the human coco bags because they are extremely valuable to science," he says. "These are samples of human biological material, including the microbial life we put on the moon decades ago, and would we like to find out that something has survived?" Some studies of this kind could handle conservatives like Henlon. ] "This is like Earth's archeology, it's not about putting something down and getting locked out and throwing out the key," says Hans. "It is that the right people will first reach these places so that we can invent the whole science we can and then preserve what must be preserved for the offspring."
Hannon says what's left of Apollo 11's astronauts. "But the prints to be loaded must be protected. While the climb explosion blast may have erased First Armstrong's footprints in the moon's ground, satellite images show that some songs are left farther than the spacecraft. Hannon would eventually even want to see a structure built on them to create a kind of lunar historical museum.