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Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
- 10 April 2014 11:44 am , Vol. 344 , #6180
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NASA Aims to Protect Apollo Artifacts From Next Lunar Arrivals
1 September 2011 2:00 pm
NASA has begun wrestling with how to safeguard the historic and scientific value of more than three dozen sites on the moon. These remnants of America's golden era of space exploration, including the spot where Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. left the first footprints on the lunar surface, may become vulnerable as dozens of private teams, spurred on by $30 million in prize money from Google and the X Prize Foundation, race to return to the moon as early as next year.
Later this month, the agency plans to issue what it calls "recommendations" for spacecraft, or future astronauts, visiting U.S. government property on the moon. A 20 July version of the guidelines obtained by Science proposes, for example, that missions approach Apollo landing sites and artifacts at a tangent to avoid crashing into them. It also suggests no-fly and buffer zones to avoid spraying rocket exhaust or dust onto historic equipment. The document includes a research wish list, written by NASA scientists and engineers for any private team or country sending a craft to the moon. The list ranges from the mundane, such as taking close-up photographs of decades-old laser range-finding mirrors still used by Earth-based astronomers, to more far-out ideas, such as studying discarded food or abandoned astronaut feces.
NASA's recommendations won't be legally binding—according to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, the lunar surface has no owner. But the agency is hopeful that the competing teams, which requested the guidelines and have been providing feedback to the agency, will sign on to a final version.