26 April 2019
Europe/Amsterdam timezone

The Moon Race Competition and the protection of cultural heritage sites on the Moon

Not scheduled
Newton 2 (ESA/ESTEC)

Newton 2


Keplerlaan 1 2201 AZ Noordwijk


Giuliana Rotola, 27.
Research Intern at Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies.
Panel 3: Protection of cultural heritage sites on the Moon.

Nowadays, on the Moon there are 110 metric tons of cultural material, which has the potential to be worthy of preservation for future generations for its scientific, technical and social significance in the realm of space exploration.
While the terrestrial cultural properties are usually preserved by UNESCO, those materials cannot be protected under the 1972 World Heritage Convention because they are not part of this world and, above all, because the Convention requires a sovereign nomination.
In 2011 NASA set guidelines to protect and preserve the historic and scientific value of the U.S. Government lunar artifacts that could be inspirational for future space exploration programs. Although in fact, the cultural material is currently for the majority property of the United States, it represents a global cultural heritage to be protected insight of intergenerational equity.
In a current perspective, the MOON RACE competition, which serves several purposes with different deadlines to reach the final goal of a moon mission in for 2024, would be a good test pad to provide protection of the cultural heritage on the lunar surface.

The purpose of this paper is to suggest the application in the competition of criteria that are suitable to guarantee the protection of the lunar cultural heritage, requiring the applying teams to develop projects that pay attention to this topic and favoring in the final evaluation those who will propose a sustainable exploration project of the lunar soil able to find a balance with the need to preserve the cultural heritage of the moon.
Following the NASA example, I will suggest to convene a team of experts in legal, scientific and engineering field that will meet the potential developers of potential future exploration missions, in order to evaluate the short-term and long-term risks, to suggest approach strategies and safe methods to visit the historic sites.

The paper will start with an overview of the concept of "cultural heritage" on the Moon and its cultural and scientific significance. Secondly, the investigation will analyze the legal framework protecting the cultural heritage in different environments, such as on the Earth, beyond the sea and in the Antarctic region. Thirdly, the Corpus Iuris Spatialis will be considered to identify existing limits for the protection of cultural heritage in outer space. Finally, a possible solution for the forthcoming lunar exploration mission promoted by the Moon Race Competition will be provided.

Primary author

Ms Giuliana Rotola (Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies)

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