In archaeology, space archaeology is the research-based study of various human-made items found in space, their interpretation as clues to the adventures mankind has experienced in space, and their preservation as cultural heritage.
It includes launch complexes on Earth, orbital debris, satellites, and objects and structures on other celestial bodies such as Mars. It also includes the applied field of cultural resource which evaluates the significance of space sites and objects in terms of national and international preservation laws. Cultural resource looks at what, how and why these artifacts of our recent history should be preserved for future generations.
Space tourism could affect archaeological artifacts, for example, on the Moon. The notion that cultural heritage is at stake and requires action to prevent deterioration or destruction is gaining ground. Perhaps artifacts (say, antiquated space stations) could be preserved in "museum orbit". Many such artifacts have been lost because they were not recognized and assessed. Experts assert that continuity and connection to the past are vital elements of survival in the modern world. A model has been suggested for international cooperation based upon Antarctica. Implications for cooperation interest anthropologists as well.
An unexpected ramification of this work is the development of techniques for detecting signs of life or technology on other planets, or extraterrestrial visitation on Earth. One facet of this work is the use of satellites for identifying structures of archeological significance.
The complexities and ambiguities of international legal structures to deal with these sites as cultural resources leave them vulnerable to impacts in the near future by many varieties of space travel. An outline of the legal situation was made by Harrison Schmitt and Neil Armstrong, both of them astronauts who walked on the moon as part of the Apollo program. The governing law on the Moon and other celestial bodies is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 based upon guidelines from experience in the Antarctic. Another source of ideas is the Law of the Sea. The Outer Space Treaty contains language stating that space objects remain under the jurisdiction of the originating state, and the civil and criminal laws of that state govern private parties both on the Moon and events leading up to such activity. State parties are to inform the public about the nature and result of their activities.
The later Moon Agreement of 1979 was signed but not ratified by many spacefaring nations. Schmitt and Armstrong believe this lack of ratification relates to disagreement over wording such as "the Moon and its natural resources are the common heritage of mankind", which is taken as possibly excluding private activity, and objections to wording concerning the disruption of the existing environment.
Background and history
During a graduate seminar at New Mexico State University in 1999, Ralph Gibson asked: "Does federal preservation law apply on the moon?" That question led to Gibson's thesis "Lunar Archaeology: The Application of Federal Historic Preservation Law to the Site where Humans first set foot upon the Moon", to a grant from the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, and to creation of the Lunar Legacy Project.
In 2006, Dr. O’Leary with New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officer Katherine Slick and the New Mexico Museum of Space History (NMMSH), documented the Apollo 11 Tranquility Base archaeological site on the Moon. Some legal aspects of this work already have surfaced.
Though its mission isn't primarily archaeological, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has imaged all of the Apollo landing sites as well as rediscovering the location of the first Lunokhod 1 rover, lost since 1971 (note: all of the U. S. flags left on the moon during the Apollo missions were found to still be standing, with the exception of the one left during the Apollo 11 mission, which was blown over during that mission's lift-off from the lunar surface and return to the mission command module in lunar orbit; the degree to which these flags are preserved and intact remains unknown).
Based on an idea by British amateur astronomer Nick Howes, a team of experts has been assembled to try to locate the Lunar Module of the Apollo 10 mission nicknamed "Snoopy", which was released during the mission and is currently thought to be in a heliocentric orbit. The Snoopy mission is encouraged by the 2002 re-sighting of the Apollo 12 third-stage rocket.
References and notes
- Capelotti, P.J. (November/December 2004). "Space: The Final [Archaeological] Frontier". Archaeology (Archaeological Institute of America). 57 Number 6. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
- Greg Fewer (2007). "Conserving space heritage: The case of Tranquility Base". J British Interplanetary Society 60: 3–8. Conference paper from Archaeology for Space Symposium
- Peter Dickens, James S. Ormrod (2007). Cosmic Society: Towards a Sociology of the Universe. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-37432-4.
- The Lunar Land Management System began in January 2007 and is currently based in the Mojave Desert of California at the Mojave Spaceport. The Mojave Spaceport is "an innovator in the privatization of space travel and is quickly becoming a gateway to the stars."
- Beth Laura O'Leary (2006). "The cultural heritage of space, the Moon and other celestial bodies". Antiquity 80.
- Dirk HR Spennemann (2004). "The ethics of treading on Neil Armstrong's footprints". Space Policy 20: 279–290. doi:10.1016/j.spacepol.2004.08.005.
- Alice Gorman (2005). "The cultural landscape of interplanetary space". Journal of Social Archaeology 5 (1): 85–107. doi:10.1177/1469605305050148.
- Gorman (2007)
- Alice C Gorman (2005). "The Archaeology of Orbital Space". Australian Space Science Conference: pages 338–357.
- D Spennemann (2006). "Out of this World: Issues of Managing Tourism and Humanity's Heritage on the Moon". Intl J of Heritage Studies 12: 356–371. doi:10.1080/13527250600726911.
- Fraser MacDonald (2007). "Anti-Astropolitik – outer space and the orbit of geography". Progress in Human Geography 31 (5): 592–615. doi:10.1177/0309132507081492.
- John B Campbell (2006). "Archaeology and direct imaging of exoplanets". In C. Aime & F. Vakili. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union. Cambridge University Press. pp. 247 ff. ISBN 0-521-85607-8.
- Campbell, J.B. (2004). "The potential for archaeology within and beyond the habitable zones of the Milky Way". In Norris, R. & Stootman, F. Bioastronomy 2002: Life among the Stars. International Astronomical Union Symposium 213. Astronomical Society of the Pacific. ISBN 1-58381-171-0.
- Greg Fewer, Searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. A pdf file here.
- MJ Carlotto (2007). "Detecting Patterns of a Technological Intelligence in Remotely Sensed Imagery". J British Interplanetary Society 60: 28–39.
- James Wiseman & Farouk El-Baz (2007). Remote Sensing in Archaeology. Springer. p. 1. ISBN 0-387-44615-X.
- James Conolly, Mark Lake (2006). Geographical Information Systems in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press. p. 72. ISBN 0-521-79330-0.
- R. Lassaponara et al. (2006). "VHR satellite images for the knowledge and the enhancement of cultural landscapes". In Fort, Alvarez de Buergo, Gomez-Heras & Vazquez-Calvo. Heritage, Weathering and Conservation. Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 841ff. ISBN 0-415-41272-2.
- Harrison H. Schmitt, Neil Armstrong (2006). Return to the Moon. Birkhäuser. pp. 280 ff §12.4. ISBN 0-387-24285-6.
- New Mexico State University Newsletter.
- Applicability of federal historic preservation law
- Robinson, Mark (27 July 2012). "Question Answered!". LROC News System. Arizona State University. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- "The mission to find the missing lunar module". phys.org. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
- "Astronomy Team Looking For Lost ‘Snoopy’ Module From Apollo 10". Retrieved 3 June 2012.
- Darrin, Ann; O'Leary, Beth, eds. (2009). The Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology and Heritage. CRC Press: Taylor and Francis. ISBN 1-4200-8431-3.
- Terms of reference for the Space Heritage Task Force written by Alice Gorman and John B Campbell (2003)
- Preserve record of human space exploration Austin Craig: NMSU news release (2008)
- Johns Hopkins Newsletter
- From space junk to world heritage listing Sue Lowe for the Sydney Morning Herald (2003)
- The Moon: an archaeological treasure trove Leonard David at the Coalition for Space Exploration
- Lunar legacy project
- Space archaeology wiki An excellent source of links to papers and people
- Space Archaeology
- Cleaning up space junk may erase history Judy Skatssoon for ABC Science Online (2006)
- Moon agreement Various legal documents on line at Lunar Land Management System
- International Institute of Space Law
- Testimony of the World Archaeological Congress in 2005 about the National Historic Preservation Act
- Puff video on space tourism
- Jeff Bezos' West Texas rocket facilityBlue Origin
- NASA Planet Hunter to Search Out Other Earths
- Spacejunk: An Archaeological Odyssey featuring an interview with Dr Alice Gorman (aka: Dr Spacejunk).