Can – and should – the U.S. pre­serve Armstrong’s lunar boot­prints for pos­ter­ity?

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - By Na­dia Drake NEW YORK TIMES

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

Moon on Page A4

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