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Moon Space Science

Protecting the Apollo Landing Sites From Later Landings 339

R3d M3rcury writes "The Lunar X-Prize is a contest offering $20 million to the first private organization to land and maneuver a robotic rover on the moon. There is also a $1 million bonus to anyone who can get a picture of a man-made object on the moon. But one archeologist believes that 'The sites of early lunar landings are of unparalleled significance in the history of humanity, and extraordinary caution should be taken to protect them.' He's concerned that we may end up with rover tracks destroying historic artifacts, such as Neil Armstrong's first bootprint, or that a mistake could send a rocket slamming into a landing site. He calls on the organizers to ban any contestant from landing within 100KM of a prior moon landing site. Now he seems to think this just means Apollo. What about the Luna and Surveyor landers? What about the Lunokhod rovers? Are they fair game?"
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Protecting the Apollo Landing Sites From Later Landings

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  • That's retarded (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nocomment ( 239368 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @02:51AM (#28219125) Homepage Journal

    We have a picture of it right? Seriously what if every time somebody did something new that spot was forbidden to be stepped on again? asinine. What if nobody as allowed to visit the beach of Columbus's first landing sites? BFD, send a plaque or something and stop wasting your time worrying about whether a footprint is going to disappear someday. It will.

    • Re:That's retarded (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:16AM (#28219239)

      There's already a plaque attached to the base of the Eagle Lander, so... all set.

      I say the rovers should drive wherever the hell the operators want. Besides, it's stupid to think that Armstrong and Aldrin wouldn't have messed up the first footprint since it was, you know, right at the bottom of the ladder and in a high traffic area.

      • by SlashWombat ( 1227578 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @05:13AM (#28219717)
        Lets face it, all the lunar hardware will end up back on Earth, in a museum. (Or perhaps private collections.) Obviously, this professor is a loony. (PUN ishment)
        • Re:That's retarded (Score:5, Informative)

          by BarryHaworth ( 536145 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @06:08AM (#28219945) Homepage
          What is often forgotten is that NASA has already made a start on this. The Apollo 12 [] mission was targetted to land right next to the Surveyor 3 [] lander. The astronauts removed bits of the probe and brought them back to Earth for analysis. The picture [] of this is one of my favourite pictures from the Apollo program. NASA didn't worry too much about preserving history back then. They were too busy making it.
          • Re:That's retarded (Score:5, Insightful)

            by fotbr ( 855184 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @09:17AM (#28221245) Journal

            I know it is cliche and all, but I'm still impressed by NASA's achievements in the 60s and 70s. That photo, for instance -- fly 240,000 miles (give or take a few orbits) one way, and park within walking distance of a rover sent up 3 years earlier.

            Now we piddle around in low earth orbit with tremendously expensive and fragile craft, while the bureaucracy can't make up its mind about what NASA should be doing. Sigh.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by sdpuppy ( 898535 )

              fly 240,000 miles (give or take a few orbits) one way, and park within walking distance of a rover sent up 3 years earlier.

              I can really appreciate that living in New York City - finding a parking spot with walking distance? - woo hoo!

              and leaving a rover in the same spot for 3 years and it didn't get towed?


              But in all seriousness, and since this is SlashDot, mention should be made that they did all this given the computing resources of the day.

              Now that is freaking impressive!

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by scorp1us ( 235526 )

            That sir, is just part of the Nevada desert.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Alan Bean had brought up a timer for the Hasselblad, and they were going to take a picture of the two of them next to the Surveyor.
            But he couldn't find the timer in the equipment box, until just before liftoff, so it never got taken.

            Just imagine what the conspiracy theorists would have done with that picture!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        For some reason, I keep seeing Fry step on that footstep and leaving the Nike symbol behind. (Futurama ref.)
      • Re:That's retarded (Score:4, Interesting)

        by radtea ( 464814 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @08:55AM (#28221007)

        Besides, it's stupid to think that Armstrong and Aldrin wouldn't have messed up the first footprint since it was, you know, right at the bottom of the ladder and in a high traffic area.

        To say nothing of being right underneath a rocket that was launched less than 24 hours later! Doesn't anyone remember the images that came back from a camera left on the moon during one of the later missions, with dust blowing everywhere as the ascent stage engine of the LM fired? The whole area around the site will almost certainly be scoured clean.

        I can see some scientific value in the sites: having pristine stuff exposed to lunar conditions for fifty years will probably provide a wealth of data on materials behaviour in space. But anyone who talks about Armstrong's first bootprint as if it's still there is preaching unicorns.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by siloko ( 1133863 )

      stop wasting your time worrying about whether a footprint is going to disappear someday.

      Indeed. We can't even protect our own planet's historical sites, lets get some perpective on what's important . . .

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Protecting the lunar landing sites is free and simple, and it's ridiculous to suggest that it would interfere in any way with protecting Earth's historical sites.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That's not what he said. He was making the point that it's hard enough to protect history right next door - near impossible 200,000 miles away.

          And an earlier poster was correct - that first footprint doesn't even exist anymore. The astronauts destroyed it mere minutes after they created it. That's what happens when you are actually DOING something instead of sitting on your ass behind a desk counting the number of holes in your ceiling (like this professor). We didn't preserve the first footprints of C

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by spiffyman ( 949476 )

            That's what happens when you are actually DOING something instead of sitting on your ass behind a desk counting the number of holes in your ceiling (like this professor).

            You don't think that's being a bit unfair? This guy's an archaeologist who knows the value of historical sites. They give us a ton of insight into where we've been and thus where we're going. I take the same pragmatic view of the landing site as you - the first footprint has been destroyed already, etc. etc. - but let's not turn this into an ad hominem fight.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The problem is that the current US practice of protecting the sites... by not GOING there is about to be threatened by other countries that might want to bring home a piece of history.

    • Bletchley Park (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:35AM (#28219323) Homepage Journal

      So, do you feel the same about Bletchley Park? It's not a simple question. There ARE things we sometimes like to see preserved for the awe inspiring value they have for posterity. I don't know about all the sites on the moon but I'd vote for the first landing site of anything ever (Russian?) and the spot where a human being first walked.

    • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:36AM (#28219329) Homepage Journal
      whether a footprint is going to disappear someday. It will

      If it hasn't been already destroyed. Wasn't the photo of where he first stepped on the moon next to the lander? Wouldn't the lander module have toasted the ground around it when it fired it's engines up to re-enter lunar orbit?

      Of course, what is the point of preserving a site that nobody can really go to anyway? Sure, if someone went there, they could 'ruin' the artifacts that remain, but who cares? It's not like anyone can visit the site and appreciate it. The best you could hope for would be to preserve it for future generations' camera equipped robotic lunar rovers.
      • by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Friday June 05, 2009 @05:43AM (#28219813)

        It's about tourists in a future a thousand years from now. You obviously never watched Futurama, right? :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Wouldn't the lander module have toasted the ground around it when it fired it's engines up to re-enter lunar orbit?

        Not necessarily - the lander module's landing platform was left behind, and the ascension stage had only one rather weak
        rocket motor. I think footprints close to the platform had a very good chance to be protected from the blast.
        Also: Without atmosphere, no turbulence. Additional protection.

    • by dintech ( 998802 )

      Worse yet. All it takes is one unlucky asteroid and everything is dust anyway. I say send in the bots. :)

    • Counterpoint: why not?

      The wiki page for the moon tells me the surface area of the moon is "about a quarter the Earth's land area, approximately as large as Russia, Canada, and the United States combined." Plenty of room to make new historical sites rather than change old one which has no significance that I can see other than historical.

    • Re:That's retarded (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hertog ( 136401 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @04:19AM (#28219511)

      Since the first footprint was at the end of the lunar-lander ladder, the same ladder that was used to get out and get in the Eagle again by Aldrin and Armstrong, my guess is that the very first footprint was already pretty messed up, even before they left the place...

      And don't forget the blast from the rocket engine at take of.. that one was sure to wipe it of the face of the moon...

    • Re:That's retarded (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @04:22AM (#28219523)

      I can't believe the current trend of comments regarding this story. Of course it should be fucking preserved. Yes, one day the footprint will disappear. I don't see any reason to accelerate natural processes though. It's kind of the same as graffiti artists (vandals) spray painting their names all over the Grand Canyon. Why should we waste our time trying to stop them, it's going to erode away anyway?


      What if nobody as allowed to visit the beach of Columbus's first landing sites?

      What if they did? Your sheltered life would probably be no worse off.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What would be more interesting is: What would happen if a Lunar X-Prize contestant did actually land near the Apolo landing site and didn't find anything at all? no foot prints, no landing site, nothing!

        I'm sure that'll add fuel to a certain conspiracy theory!

        Hmmmm, maybe this guy is an undercover NASA "agent" ;)

      • Re:That's retarded (Score:4, Insightful)

        by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Friday June 05, 2009 @06:00AM (#28219899)

        People who spray paint anything on the Grand Canyon should be shot on sight. Several times, just to be sure. It's bad enough they ruined all vertical and non-vertical walls in our cities, but willfully damaging natural monuments as important and incredible as the Grand Canyon for no reason other than pure asshattery is over the line.

        Graffiti sprayers should be incarcerated for decades anyway, but in the case of natural world wonders of this scale I have zero tolerance for them using up any more of our oxygen. Graffiti sprayers are worse than thieves, because the results of their actions are visible years from now and their damages may be much higher than that of even professional shoplifters. And their actions are done for really no reason other than to imprint their name on everything they see. Which only a small circle of their fellow jerks can even read or recognize.

        Anyone who's ever been to an Asian country will instantly recognize how large the effect and impact of widespread graffiti in any environment really is, because there's absolutely no Graffiti to speak of, only some sprayed rogue advertisements. Visible graffiti means law enforcement is far or ineffective and there's people around who don't respect others or others property. That feels less safe and emboldens others that law enforcement really IS ineffective and/or nobody cares about their wrongdoings.

        It's becoming impossible to uphold even the most basic laws fifteen to twenty years after social norms are not enforced anymore.

      • Re:That's retarded (Score:5, Insightful)

        by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @08:00AM (#28220551) Homepage

        Ever read _A Canticle for Leibowitz_? It's one of my favorites, particularly because it pokes fun at our tendency to sanctify the innocuous. In the book an ancient relic is found, something from antiquity. Turns out to be a shopping list from a guy who works a 9 to 5 job. There's another short story called "Motel of the Mysteries" that does a similar thing, except that toilet seats become some ancient religious headdressing.

        The knowledge is what we need to hold dear, not the artifacts created in search of that knowledge. It's nice in a saccharine sort of way to have tangible evidence of where someone stood, but the real treasure is what that person did. If we sanctify the artifacts we tend to lose sight of the knowledge.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SilverJets ( 131916 )

          So rather than being preserved, the existing copies of the Gutenberg bible should be recycled for toilet paper? Since we have the knowledge of how the printing press works.

          The stone blocks of the pyramids should be removed and used to build more modern structures? Since we have the knowledge of the lever and other construction techniques.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I agree that it should be preserved, but there is room for discussion on how to preserve them.

        Consider the case of Plymouth Rock []. Taught in American schools as where the Pilgrims first set foot in the New World, it's really a shadow of its former self. Not only is it much smaller than it was, due to a few hundred years of people chipping off souvenirs, but it's even been dragged across town, so it's not in its original location!

        Worse still, Plymouth isn't even where the Pilgrims first landed. They landed

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      And yet some people still want to protect Bletchley park and make it a museum...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Jaazaniah ( 894694 )
      I agree. Put up a reasonable sized-monument for the sentimental types and call it good. If we start worrying about a historical landmark that's literally made of silicon dust, where does it stop? development regulations that limit seismic activity through machine use for fear of 'shaking' the footprint out of existence over the course of 500 years? What about a random meteor hit just the right spot? Oops, there goes the history argument. Seriously, geo-map the moon like we did Earth and our GPS system, plot
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Paltin ( 983254 )

      I've been to Colombus' first landing site on San Salvador island, Bahamas.. Or actually, several of them. They're not exactly sure which spot it is, and so they just put up several monuments. Does it matter? No.

      You still get the same feeling of wonder and amazement.

      The physical place isn't the event; the event will survive changes to the place.

  • Heating and cooling once a month would expand and contract the soil, obliterating footprints eventually.

  • by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @02:53AM (#28219135)

    How many places would remain if all those spots are banned? There are only so much good landing sites on the Moon.

  • Why Worry? (Score:4, Funny)

    by robbiedo ( 553308 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @02:55AM (#28219143)
    Erosion has probably already destroyed the first footsteps on the Moon.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Erosion Requires an atmosphere doesn't it?
      • by mcvos ( 645701 )

        There's many kinds of erosion. Atmosphere and weather are definitely among the biggest factors, but there are others.

      • Re:Why Worry? (Score:5, Informative)

        by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:06AM (#28219199) Homepage Journal

        Erosion Requires an atmosphere doesn't it?

        No. They can be eroded by micrometeorites and thermal changes. But that would take millions of years.

      • Re:Why Worry? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sparklepony ( 1088131 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:28AM (#28219295)

        Other posters have already mentioned erosion via the expansion and contraction of the monthly day/night cycle's heating and cooling, and erosion by micrometeors. There's also moonquakes and electrostatic levitation of moon dust that come to mind as other natural sources of erosion.

        On top of all that, there's artificial sources of erosion. Bear in mind that the footprint was made at the base of a ladder that a couple of astronauts spent hours coming and going from; it probably got stepped on a few times. And then the lander took off again by firing a powerful rocket engine, directly blasting the area with high-velocity gases. You can see in a video of Apollo 17's lander launch that quite a lot of dust and debris gets blown about in the process. []

        But frankly, even if that first footprint was still magically pristine, I don't think returning there and putting down new footprints would somehow "ruin" the historical significance. It would add to the historical significance. The site would no longer be just the site of the first manned lunar landing, it'd be the site of the first manned lunar landing and the first return to the site of the first manned lunar landing. That's pretty neat too.

  • by Blue Shifted ( 1078715 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @02:56AM (#28219147) Journal

    it will darn near be just as special as the first time. it's been SO long since we've been there, in person.

    the next footprint should be just as protected.

  • These sort of contests work wonders towards inspiring new ideas and breaking away from old paradigms. In a free(ish) economy the main motivation is money. If you set out a prize for various pinnacles of innovation, then it is just a matter of time before they will be captured. If the goal is not achieved, then set the bounty higher. I love this idea for one and wish any attempts to gain the prize well! Break free from NASA's model, but don't step on the lunar dirt prints!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:00AM (#28219169)

    And keeping people away from the original "landing site" will keep them from figuring out that the first moon landing was faked by the government. (Or was it faked by our evil reptilian overlords? I can never keep that straight.)

  • Chinese Policy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:03AM (#28219183)

    I remember reading long ago, forget where, that official CCP policy was that if they were to arrive on the moon before the US returned, their first goal was to remove as much evidence of American landing sites as possible so as to claim the US had lied and in fact China was the first on the moon.

    Probably some wharrgarbl from the intertubes stuck in my head, but who knows.

    • Sounds impossible to me. You would have to hide tens of thousands of kilos of gear, clean up all those little bits of foam which rocketed around the landing sites and return the sites to their original state.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Or they could use the traditional method of setting up a factory and dumping tons of toxic waste into the area, eventually degrading the place to a point that no one remembers it ever being pristine.

  • Ugh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xenkar ( 580240 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:03AM (#28219187)

    Great, now we'll need to deal with the lunar version of NIMBYs. I was personally looking forward to Hydrogen 3 and titanium surface mining on the Moon. I want vast robotic factories on the Moon so we can start mass producing segments for cylinder-type space colonies. I want to be able to retire in one of those space colonies.

    It is a shame that some people exist merely to hold the rest of us back from our ideal Star Trek future with green alien babes.

    • Re:Ugh (Score:5, Funny)

      by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:18AM (#28219245)

      It is a shame that some people exist merely to hold the rest of us back from our ideal Star Trek future with green alien babes.

      Yeah.... and you know who was the best example of that? Captain Fucking James T. Kirk.

      You think one of the "red shirts" got to do it with a green alien babe? Of course not. It was Captain Kirk nailing all the Intergalactic Strange throughout the Alpha Quadrant.

      If we had that future, you would still be bitching. Your best option would be the overweight Bolian chick down in engineering. You would NOT want to go down to the planet. All you would ever hear about it is how Captain Kirk made it up back up with just a few seconds to spare, shirtless with sucker marks all over him, but Steve the poor S.O.B that transferred last week died a horrible death on the planet while some strange alien animal was sodomizing his corpse. Steve's parents would have to get a message about how his cause of death was "mauling by alien genitalia on Rontos 5".

  • by Centurix ( 249778 ) <> on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:06AM (#28219197) Homepage

    I can't imagine the bootprint lasting long if North Korea make it up there.

    You think those were nuclear missiles they were firing? North Korea are planning the worlds first single stage rocket 'landing' on the moon, with their great leader strapped to the front because he is so awesome he can actually reduce drag.

  • translation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:08AM (#28219207)

    "The sites of early lunar landings are of unparalleled significance in the history of humanity, and extraordinary caution should be taken to PREVENT EVER BEING ABLE TO PROVE THEY EVEN EXIST"

  • Idolatry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by medoc ( 90780 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:09AM (#28219209) Homepage

    This is ridiculous idolatry. It's not like there is something we *don't* know about these events, there is nothing to discover there, and hence nothing to protect, as opposed to an archeological site.

    • Re:Idolatry (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:12AM (#28219221) Homepage Journal

      This is ridiculous idolatry. It's not like there is something we *don't* know about these events, there is nothing to discover there, and hence nothing to protect, as opposed to an archeological site.

      I would vote for preserving the apollo 11 landing site. The first footsteps on the moon represented a fundamental advance for our species. Maybe in 100000 years people will argue about when and where it happened. Much as we debate the migration out of africa.

      • In that many years it will either be remembered and documented (and thus no need for a "special" preservation or it will be forgotten and that special preservation is useless.
        • Don't assume this civilization will last forever. Suppose that we end up in a nuclear war, lose all our electronically stored information through global power outages, hundreds of years go by, our textbooks crumble, and all that is left are crumbling stone memorials in a dead language, oh and one DVD of Futurama.

          We're whalers on the moon, we carry a harpoon!
    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      So... you're saying only things with something left to discover are worth preserving? Just checking.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by hvm2hvm ( 1208954 )
      Isn't that the way most of historical data is lost? People not saving important information because it's common sense for them. I want wikipedia (and other enciclopaedias) saved in some very reliable and autonomous computer with a sexy woman AI voice (or maybe Morgan Freeman's) that will explain everything you ask about human history.

      That way in 3000 years when people have restarted civilization after a nuclear war they can find out about human life and maybe accelerate their development faster than the l
  • Uhhh.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PhantomHarlock ( 189617 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:20AM (#28219255)

    The first bootprint was likely obliterated by the lunar ascent engine exhaust on the way out. Hello!

  • by metaforest ( 685350 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @03:31AM (#28219303)

    Why not? I personally think that preserving the artifacts of the first moon landing should be considered important.

    Though realistically.... Neil Armstrong's first boot print was most likely obliterated when the LEM blasted off.

    There's a lot of moon up there. I see no reason to disturb the existing landing sites until we have the means to preserve them properly.

  • ...where it's illegal to build within 100km of historical landmarks.

    Oh, wait.

    • The no-build distance from historical landmarks is lesser on Earth because of the lack of free space here.
      There is just less of it on Earth to go around, so we have to work with what we have.
      On the Moon, it being bigger than the Earth, there is a shitload more free space to go around and it is only logical to have more of it protected.
      I mean come on... What's a couple of hundred kilometers on the Moon? That fucker is huge! Bigger than the Sun, only it is really far away so it seems small.

  • It's just a matter of time until some chunk of space rock comes along and obliterates the whole landing site, bootprints, flags, rovers and all. Where do they think all the craters on the moon come from?
  • Between now and the 2012 deadline we're likely to hear more and more of the developments and adventures or the various GLXP teams. []

    A more appropriate question is of all the GLXP teams, how many will actually get to the point of getting off the ground and doing a successful Trans Lunar Injection, and of that number, how many are actually going to attempt to meet the "imaging man made artefacts" criteria.

    Official GLXP team; White Label Space has recently written of i

  • Here we go again (Score:4, Interesting)

    by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @04:34AM (#28219589)

    I hope that I'm not the only one that is fed up with this modern approach to trying to preserve everything we ever do. Why can't we be happy with the knowledge that we did it? If I got a chance to see the first boot print on the moon I'd jump at it but would my life be any worse if that boot print accidentally got driven over, hardly. I'm not advocating that we should go out of our way to erase history just let it take care of itself.

    I'd bet that 99.999% of the population probably didn't even realize that there was a first boot print still up there and now they will get all up in arms because it might at some point in the future get erased. Sigh. Give me a solution to world hunger, fusion power and a decent internet connection first and then I'll care.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @04:50AM (#28219633)
    There is some scientific value in stopping the tech (all of it, not merely the apollo stuff for sentimental reasons) from getting contaminated. That's to help us assess how materials and electronics survive in the harsh, irradiated environment. I realise the electronics is decades obsolete, but the components may yield usable data if they are analysed - not just left to rot away.

    After all we explore wrecks on the ocean floors, the landers should be afforded the same status for scientific investigation.

    As it is, We've still got Neil's boot, so we can make more footprints anytime.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @08:28AM (#28220773) Homepage Journal

      In a way this argument reminds me of Bill Gates about ten years ago talking about how some day people would have wall that could display art work from the great masters. Now, I think that's the good thing, but it's not the same as having an actual Picasso on your wall. Would you feel different about owning a baseball used by and signed by Jackie Robinson, or one that had his signature printed on it? Would you feel the same about touching an Apollo specification moon boot and touching the actual one used by Neil Armstrong?

      Once in a college class I got to handle a human brain. It was, to me at least, an awe inspiring experience. The thing was pickled and pre-dissected so it came apart like a puzzle block. So far was we knew, the information that was once in it was gone forever. Yet somehow I had the feeling I was holding an entire universe in my hand, even though now it was only a thing.

      That's the crux. We feel that things, authentic things connected to an event or person somehow connect us.

      It's not a rational feeling.

      But then again, it's not really an irrational feeling either. It's arational. It needs no justification other than it exists. It's a fact of life, a facet of human experience, one of the things that makes life worth living.

      Where we run into trouble is when we have to put this human value into the scales with other kinds of values. Is a Jackie Robinson baseball worth a human life? Of course not. Is the Apollo 11 site worth sacrificing future human technological process? No.

      But that's not what we have here.

      We have a proposal to send a rover to one of the historic landing sites. Why? Because they're cool. The value in this proposal is predicated on the connection value of the place. But the ethical question is this: in exploiting that value, how much of it do they destroy? How much of it do they leave for the rest of the human race?

      I think if scientific value is our touchstone, the rovers should go where no observers have gone before.

  • Nothing wrong here, just environmentalists doing their thing. They also think we should stop exploring Mars, as we might disturb the environment there, too. They view space exploration as nothing more than a virus looking for new hosts to infect.
  • zzz (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Friday June 05, 2009 @07:14AM (#28220271)
    Its sad that my first thought was this: the very first private venture to the moon will probably sell the Apollo and unmanned probes as the ultimate collectible artifacts to the highest bidder - and there is nothing that can be done about it. of course, I then started thinking more about the logistics as lifting a landing module off the moon and retuning safely and realized it was not going to happen yet, or any time soon. but the point remains that they could and there is nothing that can be done to stop them.

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn