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NASA issues historic preservation guidelines for the moon

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., the lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, stands next to a United States flag July 20, 1969 during an Apollo 11 Extravehicular Activity (EVA) on the surface of the Moon.



NASA released historic preservation guidelines for the moon today, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

The guidelines specify how close future spacecraft should hover, flyover, hop or alight near historic landing sites and spacecraft left behind by the Apollo missions and other US mission to the moon, the Christian Science Monitor reported. It also requests that future moon visitors not touch “US human, human-robotic lunar presence, including footprints, rover tracks, etc., although not all anthropogenic indicators are protected as identified in the recommendations.”

“In the 50 years since the first lunar missions, the spaceflight community has not formally provided recommendations to the next generation of lunar explorers on how to preserve the original artifacts and protect ongoing science from the potentially damaging effects of nearby landers,” NASA said in a statement, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

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Since NASA does not have moon rangers keeping order on the lunar surface, following these guidelines is voluntary, Discovery News reported.

However, the 26 teams competing for Google’s Lunar X Prize, which aims to land a privately-funded robot rover on the moon by 2015, have said they will abide by NASA’s guidelines, CBS News reported. (The X Prize Foundation, which oversees the competition, and the teams provided NASA with recommendations to help the space agency craft the guidelines.)

If future moon explorers follow the rules, artifacts such as Neil Armstrong’s boot prints, the golf ball Alan Shepard hit towards the Fra Mauro crater and bags containing astronaut feces, along with equipment like descent modules and lunar rovers, should last forever, Discovery News reported.

According to Discovery News:

On the moon, where there’s no weather to wear these sites away, preserving them is as simple as never going near them.

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