The destiny of the human race lies beyond our planet, but before we can search the stars, we need to colonize the moon. Many countries including China, India, and Japan have expressed serious interest in either putting people or rovers on the moon and NASA has asked them to stay away from our stuff. This also comes from Google’s Lunar X-Prize getting closer to reality.
Having all of this approaching activity has made NASA a little nervous about it’s property and history sitting on the lunar surface. Two Apollo landing sites (Apollo 11 and 17) and a few of the Ranger impact sites are on the off limits. Though NASA has no way of enforcing the requirements, they are designed to protect materials and scientific equipment at historical lunar sites as well as future landing sites. The guidelines have been made available internationally, and the agency welcomes other nations to participate in and improve upon them, said NASA spokesperson Joshua Buck.
The Apollo 11 and 17 sites are singled out in particular for extra care and respect. Rovers are prohibited from visiting both sites and are requested to remain outside a large radius (250 feet for Apollo 11 and 740 feet for Apollo 17). The goal is to prevent the kicking up of moon dust which is apparently extremely abrasive. Hopefully the Chinese and Indians will be mindful of the history that is sitting up there and will choose a different place to land their robots and people.
photo courtesy of NASA