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NASA To Future Lunar Explorers: Don't Mess With Our Moon Stuff 346

Posted by timothy
from the why-didn't-you-bring-enough-for-the-entire-class? dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA today gently reminded any future Moon explorers that any relics of its Apollo missions or other U.S. lunar artifacts should be off limits and are considered historic sites. NASA issued the reminder in conjunction with the X Prize Foundation and its Google Lunar X Prize competition which will use NASA's Moon sites guidelines as it sifts through the 26 teams currently developing systems and spacecraft to land on the Moon."
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NASA To Future Lunar Explorers: Don't Mess With Our Moon Stuff

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  • Or what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:54PM (#40102923)

    You gonna come up here and get us, NASA?

    Yeah, I didn't THINK so.

    • Re:Or what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:56PM (#40102941)

      If I'm on the moon and see a rover, it's getting solar panels installed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What, you're not gonna add big exhaust pipes and maybe rice it out a little?

        Pussy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by slimjim8094 (941042)

      To be fair, they're the only ones who've ever done it...

    • Re:Or what? (Score:5, Funny)

      by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:56PM (#40102947) Homepage

      We shall send you a very sternly worded letter, sir.

    • Re:Or what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@@@yahoo...ca> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:57PM (#40102965)

      I completely agree. When people settled North America, Africa, or South America did they say, "oh you know what those are scared lands we will not disturb them." I say tough titty! If you want them, go get them yourselves, otherwise its fair game!

      • by berashith (222128)

        not exactly, but those who went did tend to declare the spaces that they landed at as their own, to the point of going to war with anyone who disagreed. Private corporation moon war is gonna make for some kick-ass TV.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cpu6502 (1960974)

          Actually the early colonists signed treaties with the Indians, granting them some land for settling. They didn't just take it. The wars broke-out much later (mid-1700s) when the Indians allied with the French & started fighting back against the British colonists.

          And it wasn't until the 1800s that presidents started ignoring the Supreme Court's determination that Indians had a right to stay settled, per the aforementioned treaties, and started forced migrations of them to the west.

          And final thought: Th

          • by berashith (222128)

            all true. I meant to focus on those doing the traveling. The few countries capable of making the trip had to stay well clear of each others's stuff and places. I dont think there were many times that the French told the Spaniards "you can keep florida, Quebec effin rocks" . The use of Indians in the wars was convenient proxy.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by rubycodez (864176)

            "the Indians"? do you have any idea how many nations and tribes of "Indians" there were? the early colonists certainly did NOT make an agreement with all "Indians". Your viewpoint is imperialist bullshit.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Actually, there were hundreds of treaties, which did cover a vast majority of the native peoples living in the U.S.
              Many of these treaties are still in force.
              Despite the duplicity of Congress, the Supreme Court, and state governments, these treaties are out there.

              Want to read some of them? Hope your schedule is free this evening:
              http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Kappler/

            • by timeOday (582209)
              I think your point is moot in the overall plotline, which is this: Europoeans didn't come in and take all the land. Instead, they took it over incrementally (a couple hundred years), taking away land as they grew ready to exploit it. The "legalities" meant little or nothing over the long term. Whether the Europeans negotiated favorable terms and later reneged, or "negotiated" unfavorable terms after conflict, or simply took what they wanted without negotiations, it was all more or less the same in the en
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by HornWumpus (783565)

              So they should have made an agreement with all the nations when they were trading for land owned by one nation?

              Indians certainly had the concept of tribal land ownership. They fought for land, slaves and resources just as regularly as other stone age societys.

      • those are scared lands

        What frightened them?

    • Of course not. You'll be fine! For as a long as you stay on the Moon...
    • I was more thinking on the lines of the conspiracy theriosts that would say this was to prevent proving the landing was a hoax.

      A nearby landing and photos of the site should be OK though. Walking through existing rover tracks and footprints should remain undisturbed but photographed from a safe distance.

      • by Applekid (993327)

        I was more thinking on the lines of the conspiracy theriosts that would say this was to prevent proving the landing was a hoax.

        Or plausible deniability when investigators don't actually find anything.*
        "Well, sure, you didn't find anything because YOU stole it and wiped out the footprints."

        * full disclosure: I'm quite sure we actually went to the moon.

      • by durrr (1316311)

        I'm going to revise some history.

        I've already got the authentic t-rex bones and rubber feet. SpaceX haven't answered my mails yet but I'm sure they'll donate a rocket or two for such a noble purpose.

    • I suspect that NASA isn't too worried about anybody staying on the moon long enough to evade them...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      You gonna come up here and get us, NASA?

      Yeah, I didn't THINK so.

      NASA: No, we'll just wait for you back down here.

      Short of establishing a self-sufficient moon base, that's all they'd have to do. Mess with NASA and become a spacer for life. And yes, self-sufficiency is a requirement since you don't know if NASA might infiltrate your Earth bases (you know, for hostages or to ship up compromised supplies...).

      • Jurisdiction. . . (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JSBiff (87824) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:08PM (#40103143) Journal

        There's a very legitimate question of jurisdiction. The U.S. has no legal authority over the moon, any more than they do venus or mars.

        In essence, it would be kind of a dickish thing to do to mess with historical sites on the moon, but the U.S. government has no legal authority over the moon. I'd say something which has been left unattended for 50+ years would qualify as "abandoned", so it's not like theft laws should apply.

        There is the issue that if the craft is a U.S.-based craft, then like ships in international waters, it might carry U.S. jurisdiction around with it wherever it goes, but if it's, I dunno, a Chinese or Russian spacecraft? What's NASA/USGovt gonna do?

        • by GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) <almafuerteNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:20PM (#40103301)

          The US didn't have jurisdiction over Iraq either. Or over Pakistan, when they killed Osama.

          It didn't seem to matter.

          Since when does the US government respect any law, internal or international?

        • by dougmc (70836)

          but the U.S. government has no legal authority over the moon. I'd say something which has been left unattended for 50+ years would qualify as "abandoned", so it's not like theft laws should apply.

          There is the issue that if the craft is a U.S.-based craft, then like ships in international waters, it might carry U.S. jurisdiction around with it wherever it goes, but if it's, I dunno, a Chinese or Russian spacecraft? What's NASA/USGovt gonna do?

          There are international salvage laws -- they generally apply to things found in the ocean, but as written they might apply to things in orbit or on the moon too. I don't know.

          It also seems quite likely that if the salvage laws don't actually cover the moon yet that the laws will be extended before anybody is actually able to make it up there that isn't a major government -- the US may rely on a strongly worded letter today, now that it doesn't matter, but they will go for something a lot stronger once it b

        • There's a very legitimate question of jurisdiction. The U.S. has no legal authority over the moon, any more than they do venus or mars.

          Says who? If the US claims Jurisdiction over the moon landing sites who has the authoritiy to tell them otherwise? The U.N?

        • by slew (2918)

          Although I'm not 100% sure that this is applicable, the Outerspace Treaty (which forms the basis of international space law), seems to say that...

          the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty

          So if the prize is sponsored by a US based non-govt entity (I think this is the case), it appears that the US Government has international legal authority in this matter. Of course if the prize was sponsored by govt or non-govt entity that was not a signatory to the Outerspace Treaty, then perhaps the US would have no authority in this matter...

        • by peragrin (659227)

          Nasa isn't claiming authority of the moon. just their stuff that is on the moon. I bet if you screwed around with Russia's moon vehicles you would disappear KGB^H^H^HFSB style.

          All NASA is saying is these are historical artifacts keep your hands off. Do you know how much of Titanic has been raided since Cameron went down there? Thieves are raiding it.

    • by sohmc (595388)
      I imagine that Congress would need to write a law similar to the one for a US Citizen traveling overseas for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a minor [cornell.edu] (Title 18, Chapter 117, Section 2423, Subsection b).

      So yeah, you can mess up the stuff on the moon, but government will find a way to nail you
    • by Bigby (659157)

      I would think even the most evil a people would leave the first footprint untouched. As well as the flag. But anything else? Who cares. Maybe leave the golf ball in orbit (if it still is).

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        I think the sites should remain undisturbed; not only do they have the first footprint, but also the remnants of the landers, the flags, and some rovers plus some experimental equipment. It's not like they take up a huge amount of space, they're really quite small.

        However, if the rover tracks which span a few miles get disturbed, I'm not too worried about that. Those extend far from the landing sites.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      This just in: The DoD has announced that it is reinstating Project A119, to 'test' the effects of detonating a nuclear weapon on the surface of the moon.

    • by es330td (964170)
      Do you know everything NASA has taken up into orbit? The means to get somebody may already be there. If you mess with something on the moon, you still have to get back to Earth. At some point you will be in a place that you can be gotten to, and collecting evidence that a spaceship's destruction wasn't an accident is going to be mighty difficult.
  • by ribuck (943217) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @03:57PM (#40102967) Homepage

    Heh, it would be quite a coup for a less-than-friendly space-faring nation to bring back to earth the Apollo 11 lunar lander (descent stage) as a "trophy"!

  • Flag (Score:5, Funny)

    by Russ1642 (1087959) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:02PM (#40103063)
    Anybody up for an epic game of capture the flag?
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:04PM (#40103079) Homepage

    SALVAGE.

    They abandoned that stuff out there on a rock in space. They have no intention of doing anything further with it and have no authority over it. How is it not salvage to pick up some leftovers?

    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:25PM (#40103363)
      They abandoned that stuff out there on a rock in space. They have no intention of doing anything further with it and have no authority over it. How is it not salvage to pick up some leftovers?

      Obviously there is little if anything they can do to prevent it. But the words "gently", "should be", "historic sites", and "guidelines - none of which are particularly enforceable" are there for a reason. As in "This is the first evidence on humans landing on another celestial body. Please don't fuck it up. If you do, A lot of the rest of humanity will think you are a dick."
      • by forand (530402)
        You sir have succinctly summarized the content of the article in a (what I think of as) non-inflamitory way. Thank you! Many others in the thread think that NASA is going to send the MiB to your door to get you for messing with their stuff but I think you are correct: I and many others like me want to have the history of humanity's first baby steps into space kept as historical evidence and reminders of how far we have progressed.
      • by sapgau (413511)

        I will definitely pay to see an exhibition of "recovered" lunar equipment.
        If we did it for the Titanic this should be done with no moral or legal repercussions.

    • They have no intention of doing anything further with it and have no authority over it.

      Says who? Our plans for the lunar sites is to preserve them for history as national parks. You think you can go into the everglades and start logging because no one is doing anything with the trees? Who said we have no authority over it? It is our stuff. If you want to take you can try but we don't spend more money than you on military equipment because we are nice people.

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      The rights of salvage on the fucking moon are obviously new legal territory. Anyway, salvage is not a concept passed down from god and the basic historicity of the site takes precedence.

    • by Aidtopia (667351)
      I think you meant Salvage One [imdb.com]. ;-)
  • by zerosomething (1353609) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:05PM (#40103099) Homepage
    Didn't you know. http://www.ironsky.net/site/ [ironsky.net] Geeze
  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:05PM (#40103105)
    From the original article:

    The guidelines do not represent mandatory U.S. or international requirements. NASA provided them to help lunar mission planners preserve and protect historic lunar artifacts and potential science opportunities for future missions.

    So basically they're just asking nicely. It doesn't seem like they can actually do anything even if the new spacefarers are based in the United States, and they almost certainly can't do anything if they are based in another country.

  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:06PM (#40103121)

    Anyone else think it's pretty cool that we've reached a point in history where we have to start seriously talking about property rights on the moon?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Actually, no. I have plenty of mundane things to bring me down already. It's the end of cool as far as I'm concerned.

    • Anyone else think it's pretty cool that we've reached a point in history...

      We haven't. This is merely a case of wishful thinking and pre-emptive ass-covering.

  • This is Salvage 1 - the junkyard astronautics http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079847/ [imdb.com]
  • How odd (Score:2, Flamebait)

    I find humanity strange: there's an ENTIRE FUCKING PLANET completely pristine and untouched, waiting to be explored, and all people can think off is returning to a few square miles of it that's already been visited.

    It's like a dog coming back to sniff its own poo when there's the rest of the garden to visit.

  • starting auction price will be some crazy amount!
  • by KlomDark (6370) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:16PM (#40103249) Homepage Journal

    How can they stay away from something that so many people have told me aren't really there?

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:17PM (#40103273) Homepage Journal

    Put a fence around it. Otherwise, it's fair game to whoever gets there next.

    Obviously, our time as a Superpower is over, so now we're trying to puff ourselves up to try and scare the next generation of Moon-travelers, which will most likely be the Chinese in 2030.

    Either that or Elon Musk will get it all to auction on eBay -- put you gotta use Paypal as your payment method.

    • by sapgau (413511)

      Question: What height does the fence surrounding a lunar lander has to be so a properly suited human doesn't go over it in one jump?

  • I'd love to get Shepard's Golf Ball. That is the only memento I think we'd want back. The rest of that stuff is just disposable stuff. Unless the US is serious and gets back to the Moon, then how can we claim that those sites are of historic interest? It's time to start staking claims and prospecting!

    • by Stargoat (658863) *

      Dagnabit, bakin tweneetree wees all wen up tu da moon. By gumbo itas ard werk, fertyet hurs at ah time cuz oxi were so pensi. Bud di we moan an cari abo like fancy dago footballers? Hell na, we tweneetrees donna go in fer yer wumenee hands. We wurk like gooduns, den and na.

  • by saccade.com (771661) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:31PM (#40103423) Homepage Journal
    Geez, NASA doesn't even follow their own rules. You may recall, part of the Apollo 12 landing involved a hike over to the Surveyor 3 [wikipedia.org] landing site. They hack-sawed the camera and several other pieces off the Surveyor probe and brought them home. Still waiting to see if any of it gets posted in eBay...

    (Kind of ironic that they took the camera; the Apollo 12 astronauts ineptly fried their camera by pointing it at the sun, and ruined the live TV coverage of the entire mission).
  • Maybe they should just paint it a gaudy orange or pink or give it a mustache, not tell NASA until next time they get there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @04:32PM (#40103435)

    Having done a lot of research in space law, I'd like to dispel some of the misconceptions I see being put forth in both the summary and the comments:

    1. These are not rules but rather guidelines and are only directly binding on activities conducted by NASA itself.
    2. However, they are likely to become de facto conditions for any activities licensed, fully or in part, by the U.S. government or other friendly spacefaring nations. At the present, this covers basically all private space activity.
    3. Under the Outer Space Treaty, to which all spacefaring nations are parties, all man-made items on the surface of the moon and other celestial bodies, as well as in orbit, continue to belong to the nations that launched them (with the possible exception of a couple of Soviet landers allegedly sold to Lord British). This policy exists to ensure that launching entities may not absolve themselves of responsibility for damage cause by their objects, on earth or in space, after their use life is over.
    4. Space law does not contain notions of salvage as does maritime law. "lost" or otherwise inaccessible objects may not be removed without their owners' permission.
    5. It is the U.S. government's position that the lunar landing sites remain active research laboratories studying the long-term effects of the lunar environment on man-made objects. This provides them further protections from non-interference under various space law treaties.
    6. None of the other spacefaring nations, China included, are interested in disturbing these sites due to the huge negative backlash they would incur.
    7. No substantive laws forbidding people form messing with these sites exist. Many have advocated extending UNESCO World Heritage Site status to the lunar landing sites, but that regime is premised on territorial sovereignty, which cannot exist in space under the OST. Under the property principles outlined above, however, the owners of space objects (here the U.S. govt.) could sue any private party that succeeded in screwing with the landing sites into the ground.

  • I'm going to build amusement parks [imdb.com] around those landing sites.

  • This shit is stupid (not the preservation of historic achievement part, rather the cries of nationalism).

    Do we (humans) really think that the brave folks who will, eventually, risk life and limb to establish human settlements off-world will give a single fuck about Earthbound politics? Yea, 'cause, you know, when the lives of every colonist depend on things like functioning oxygen scrubbers, they're really going to care what the politicians of Nations X and Y have to say about each other.

    I posit that
  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @05:07PM (#40103877) Homepage Journal

    After all, it's not like the United States of America gave a shit about all the historical and sacred sites of the Red Man, "manifest destiny" apparently gave White Man the right to trample over, destroy, steal, rape and pillage, all in the name of "homesteading" so that all the money they paid France for that land didn't go to waste.

  • I'm sure if it's moved, the Historical Sticklers Society will make sure that it's replaced with a replica.
  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @10:12PM (#40105963) Homepage

    wait... you mean the moon landings *weren't* faked, after all??

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