More Spooky Preservation At a Distance: Moon Artifacts on Preservation Lists

A follow-up from a September post on what to do in the event humans once again stride upon the Moon and mosey in the general vicinity of the Apollo landing sites.  NASA released its guidelines in July, in part because participants in the Google Lunar X Prize expressed interest in visiting historic sites on the moon (the bonuses for doing so certainly helped).  The guidelines focused on how close vehicles and personnel could come to historic sites (whether on the surface or above it).  It also prioritized preservation of the first and last moon landing sites and associated artifacts.  Robert Kelso, featured in this news piece from October, is the point of contact for the agency on these matters.

The New York Times noted a different angle on the preservation puzzle – state historic registries.  Credit an anthropology professor in New Mexico for trying to answer the question of whether federal preservation laws applied to Moon artifacts.  While that answer is complicated (the artifacts remain the property of the U.S., but many nations have agreed not to claim sovereignty on the Moon), it has not prevented historic registers in California and New Mexico from listing artifacts on the moon (Texas law requires the item be physically in the state, rather than simply have an association with it).

Neither NASA’s recommendations nor the state designations have the force of international law, and should/when other countries eventually start visiting the Moon, there is no guarantee that the guidance will be respected.  But at least they won’t have to read our minds about it.

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One thought on “More Spooky Preservation At a Distance: Moon Artifacts on Preservation Lists

  1. Pingback: NASA Updates Moon Visit Guidelines; X Prize Foundation Publicly Likes Them « Pasco Phronesis

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