Can – and should – the U.S. preserve Armstrong’s lunar bootprints for posterity?
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin visited the moon 50 years ago, they left roughly 100 objects behind, including a portion of their lunar lander, the American flag and, yes, various kinds of trash.
Those objects are still there, surrounded by rugged bootprints marking humanity’s first steps on another world. But that site, called Tranquility Base, may not be as enduring as the legacy those prints represent.
“Is there anything stopping you from just driving over Neil Armstrong’s footprints?” said Steve Mirmina, a specialist in space law at Georgetown University. “No. There’s nothing. There’s no rule, there’s no U.S. domestic Buzz Aldrin stands on the moon on July 20, 1969. Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first men to walk on the moon. law, or no international treaty obligation to preserve them.”
In other words, anyone capable of visiting Tranquility Base could alter what many believe to be an indispensable part of humanity’s heritage, a place that is analogous to archaeological sites on Earth.
“Where the objects are, how they’re sitting there – that tells the actual real
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