#102 February 1997
Section 220.127.116.11.102.of the Artemis Data Book
Relics of the "Scouting Period" will all be preserved as a part of on-site lunar frontier national parks and monuments or placed in future lunar frontier settlement museums.
One frequently hears complaints that we have already "trashed the Moon" referring to equipment and equipment packaging and other items left behind on the Moon by the Apollo explorers. The speaker silently assumes we will never return to establish a permanent presence on the Moon, that there can be no useful function of such leavings, that they serve only as pocks of litter. Since this set of assumptions is without justification, it does more to discredit those who parrot the chant than anyone else.
"One man's trash is another man's treasure" is an even more common tidbit of popular wisdom, however, and happily one that is definitely more applicable to the situation. "When", not "if", we someday return to the Moon "to stay" and make it "Earth's Eighth Continent" and the first of many human-adopted home worlds, such items, from derelict spacecraft stages to scientific instruments to packaging waste to footprints -- these will all suddenly become invaluable. They will be priceless "hope chest" contributions to future lunar frontier museums and monuments to the watershed epoch of early human and robotic exploration of the Moon.
Even if, to our great shame and discredit as a sapient race, we fail to use our talents and resources to expand into the human hinterland of Greater Earth as we have into all the other companion continents of our native Africa, the contention that these relics of exploration constitute "trash" exposes an indefensible view of man as something apart from, not part of nature. Rather we should have humble pride in these leavings. They are indeed venerable and admirable relics of great achievement and of the enormous capacities with which man has been endowed.
What we have left behind on the Moon is indeed "a promise," a promise to return, to return and stay, a humble engagement token, a sign of betrothal. Even should this future hoped for mutually adoptive relationship with the Moon not develop, these things will still stand long after the rest of human civilization on Earth has crumbled into dust, as mute testimony to the glorious design of Homo sapiens and the Creative Agency(ies) that led to our emergence -- whether some scouting explorers of other separately arisen intelligent populations ever stumble upon them and feel the wonder -- or not.
There has long been deep discussion of future political and economic regimes for the Moon, and on the question of property rights. However these thorny questions resolve themselves (and we have strong opinions on how they should), some very important, and arguably less controversial, legal questions are going unaddressed. Addressing them now could create a momentum of achievement that might help break the paralyzing logjam of endless debate over the other more disputed issues.
For example, we might now set up definitions, standards, and procedures for declaration of various sites and areas of the lunar surface as the lunar equivalent of national parks, national monuments, national scientific preserves etc. Procedures for nominating a site, for establishment of the special status, and for amending that status in the future are needed. At this date when evidence for a case of objection can not be maturely prepared (e.g. unique geochemical resources of critical economic value) candidate sites could remain simply "nominees." Protocols for the establishment of economic concessions that do not infringe on the scenic or geological rationales for the nomination could be decided upon now, subject to revision as the on-site learning experience unfolds. Might it not be unreasonable to expect that solving these "special" cases will help point the way to acceptable "general" solutions of the property question?
In addition to such special treatment of nominated areas of special scenic and/or geological interest, the historic sites of early lunar robotic and human exploration should be included. In each case, the immediate site could be handled as an easement, with use and encroachment restrictions passed on to whatever future jurisdiction or public, private, or commercial title as may come to be established.
These sites are just what we have labeled them, "hope chest" items for the future edification and education of lunar pioneers, settlers, and visitors to come. They need to be treated, individually and as a class, with honor, respect, and awe. Popular, if not universal contempt, should be approached as an opportunity for education and public outreach. When and where attitudes cannot be changed, we must sadly learn to dismiss them: "consider the source."
These remarks are meant to address similar human/robotic "tracks and droppings" on Mars and elsewhere. These things will become the foundation of lore and legend. They will live on, their thoughtless denigrators passing from the scene into oblivion.
As human sites, the Apollo sites need special protection and handling. But even robotic sites are instances of virtual human presence and need attention too. It is not too early to discuss proposals for proper preservation and protection. Some of these sites will become enucleating centers of future human settlement. Others will affect the routing of future highways. Their places on the map are more than footnotes to be sure.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto