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Protecting the Apollo Landing Sites From Later Landings

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the everyone-must-have-a-hobby dept.

Moon 339

R3d M3rcury writes "The Lunar X-Prize is a contest offering $20 million to the first private organization to land and maneuver a robotic rover on the moon. There is also a $1 million bonus to anyone who can get a picture of a man-made object on the moon. But one archeologist believes that 'The sites of early lunar landings are of unparalleled significance in the history of humanity, and extraordinary caution should be taken to protect them.' He's concerned that we may end up with rover tracks destroying historic artifacts, such as Neil Armstrong's first bootprint, or that a mistake could send a rocket slamming into a landing site. He calls on the organizers to ban any contestant from landing within 100KM of a prior moon landing site. Now he seems to think this just means Apollo. What about the Luna and Surveyor landers? What about the Lunokhod rovers? Are they fair game?"

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339 comments

That's retarded (5, Insightful)

nocomment (239368) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219125)

We have a picture of it right? Seriously what if every time somebody did something new that spot was forbidden to be stepped on again? asinine. What if nobody as allowed to visit the beach of Columbus's first landing sites? BFD, send a plaque or something and stop wasting your time worrying about whether a footprint is going to disappear someday. It will.

Re:That's retarded (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219239)

There's already a plaque attached to the base of the Eagle Lander, so... all set.

I say the rovers should drive wherever the hell the operators want. Besides, it's stupid to think that Armstrong and Aldrin wouldn't have messed up the first footprint since it was, you know, right at the bottom of the ladder and in a high traffic area.

Re:That's retarded (3, Funny)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219717)

Lets face it, all the lunar hardware will end up back on Earth, in a museum. (Or perhaps private collections.) Obviously, this professor is a loony. (PUN ishment)

Re:That's retarded (1, Interesting)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219251)

stop wasting your time worrying about whether a footprint is going to disappear someday.

Indeed. We can't even protect our own planet's historical sites, lets get some perpective on what's important . . .

Re:That's retarded (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219341)

Protecting the lunar landing sites is free and simple, and it's ridiculous to suggest that it would interfere in any way with protecting Earth's historical sites.

Re:That's retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219257)

We have pictures, right.
But aren't the original NASA shots lost or something?

Re:That's retarded (1)

orangeyoda (958347) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219405)

Hardly they were protected from the US public, because they show the flag being blown away in the wash of the eagle taking off. In fact nothing lasts from the first apollo landing except the landers legs. the buggy might still be there from the later missions though, but boot prints / flag anything combustable or light weight will have been either burnt or erased.

Bletchley Park (4, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219323)

So, do you feel the same about Bletchley Park? It's not a simple question. There ARE things we sometimes like to see preserved for the awe inspiring value they have for posterity. I don't know about all the sites on the moon but I'd vote for the first landing site of anything ever (Russian?) and the spot where a human being first walked.

That's retarded, and more than you think (4, Insightful)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219329)

whether a footprint is going to disappear someday. It will

If it hasn't been already destroyed. Wasn't the photo of where he first stepped on the moon next to the lander? Wouldn't the lander module have toasted the ground around it when it fired it's engines up to re-enter lunar orbit?

Of course, what is the point of preserving a site that nobody can really go to anyway? Sure, if someone went there, they could 'ruin' the artifacts that remain, but who cares? It's not like anyone can visit the site and appreciate it. The best you could hope for would be to preserve it for future generations' camera equipped robotic lunar rovers.

Re:That's retarded (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219415)

Worse yet. All it takes is one unlucky asteroid and everything is dust anyway. I say send in the bots. :)

Re:That's retarded (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219425)

Counterpoint: why not?

The wiki page for the moon tells me the surface area of the moon is "about a quarter the Earth's land area, approximately as large as Russia, Canada, and the United States combined." Plenty of room to make new historical sites rather than change old one which has no significance that I can see other than historical.

Re:That's retarded (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219595)

If they just want to mess around instead of doing serious research on new areas, then maybe they should actually stick to messing up the original site.

Re:That's retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219499)

Columbus's first foot print isn't still there...

Re:That's retarded (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219659)

fuck you you're wrong.

Re:That's retarded (5, Informative)

Hertog (136401) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219511)

Since the first footprint was at the end of the lunar-lander ladder, the same ladder that was used to get out and get in the Eagle again by Aldrin and Armstrong, my guess is that the very first footprint was already pretty messed up, even before they left the place...

And don't forget the blast from the rocket engine at take of.. that one was sure to wipe it of the face of the moon...

Re:That's retarded (5, Insightful)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219523)

I can't believe the current trend of comments regarding this story. Of course it should be fucking preserved. Yes, one day the footprint will disappear. I don't see any reason to accelerate natural processes though. It's kind of the same as graffiti artists (vandals) spray painting their names all over the Grand Canyon. Why should we waste our time trying to stop them, it's going to erode away anyway?

 

What if nobody as allowed to visit the beach of Columbus's first landing sites?

What if they did? Your sheltered life would probably be no worse off.

Re:That's retarded (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219615)

What would be more interesting is: What would happen if a Lunar X-Prize contestant did actually land near the Apolo landing site and didn't find anything at all? no foot prints, no landing site, nothing!

I'm sure that'll add fuel to a certain conspiracy theory!

Hmmmm, maybe this guy is an undercover NASA "agent" ;)

Re:That's retarded (2, Interesting)

Jaazaniah (894694) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219603)

I agree. Put up a reasonable sized-monument for the sentimental types and call it good. If we start worrying about a historical landmark that's literally made of silicon dust, where does it stop? development regulations that limit seismic activity through machine use for fear of 'shaking' the footprint out of existence over the course of 500 years? What about a random meteor hit just the right spot? Oops, there goes the history argument. Seriously, geo-map the moon like we did Earth and our GPS system, plot the points of landing and point to that record as the history of the moon.

It's made of dust, people!

The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (2, Interesting)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219129)

Heating and cooling once a month would expand and contract the soil, obliterating footprints eventually.

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (5, Interesting)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219189)

If you want to preserve Neil Armstrong's boot print, perhaps it's better to send a mission exactly there and put a pane of plexiglas over it.

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (5, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219355)

We still have Armstrong's boot [si.edu] alongside other historically significant foot wear such as Dorothy's red shooes. We could attach the boot to the bottom of the probe and called it a restoration project.

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219591)

that will work great until an asteroid dedides to make a crater out of that location

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219673)

What at Florida ? He will probably tell you to get off his lawn

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (2, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219203)

Heating and cooling once a month would expand and contract the soil, obliterating footprints eventually.

That must be what erased all the craters. Oh wait...

To be fair you did say "eventually"... but then our sun will burn out eventually too, that doesn't mean we shouldn't make wildlife preserves in the meantime.

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219285)

I'm pretty sure it's easier for a boot print to be messed up than an entire crater. We're talking about little ripples in the dirt getting moved around. Also as someone else mentioned the fact that it was at the bottom of the lander where they had to walk each time probably means it was messed up anyways.

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219289)

Craters would not be erased by this process. Sunlight only reaches just so far into the surface. Probably just a few inches. The effect would be to blur fine details of a print.

When you're talking about a hundred mile wide crater, you can see this is negliglble. But a bootprint? It'd last a hundred years. Crispness of the print would last less than that, but it's already been 40 years. A thousand years? I am skeptical.

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219421)

Craters would not be erased by this process...When you're talking about a hundred mile wide crater, you can see this is negliglble.

There are plenty of craters as small as footprints on the moon.

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219363)

Heating and cooling once a month would expand and contract the soil, obliterating footprints eventually.

Obviously, we must protect the moon from this heating and cooling at all costs! I propose a tin foil wrapping suspended above the entire surface to block the sun.

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219399)

I propose a tin foil wrapping suspended above the entire surface to block the sun.

I'm not giving up my hat for anything....

Re:The bootprint is might be getting fuzzy by now (2, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219577)

"Heating and cooling once a month would expand and contract the soil, obliterating footprints eventually."

Unfortunately that same process will never have an effect on your nick.

100km is excessive (5, Funny)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219135)

How many places would remain if all those spots are banned? There are only so much good landing sites on the Moon.

Re:100km is excessive (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219191)

How many places would remain if all those spots are banned? There are only so much good landing sites on the Moon.

At the current rate there are enough landing sites to keep us busy for a couple of thousand years.

Why Worry? (4, Funny)

robbiedo (553308) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219143)

Erosion has probably already destroyed the first footsteps on the Moon.

Re:Why Worry? (1, Informative)

TornCityVenz (1123185) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219149)

Erosion Requires an atmosphere doesn't it?

Re:Why Worry? (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219195)

There's many kinds of erosion. Atmosphere and weather are definitely among the biggest factors, but there are others.

Re:Why Worry? (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219199)

Erosion Requires an atmosphere doesn't it?

No. They can be eroded by micrometeorites and thermal changes. But that would take millions of years.

Re:Why Worry? (4, Funny)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219287)

Fry will slap nike all over it long before then anyway.

Re:Why Worry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219711)

actually, fry didnt discovered the original apollo 11 landing site, but some reconstruction, plaque announcing that was clearly visible on it.

Re:Why Worry? (5, Interesting)

Sparklepony (1088131) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219295)

Other posters have already mentioned erosion via the expansion and contraction of the monthly day/night cycle's heating and cooling, and erosion by micrometeors. There's also moonquakes and electrostatic levitation of moon dust that come to mind as other natural sources of erosion.

On top of all that, there's artificial sources of erosion. Bear in mind that the footprint was made at the base of a ladder that a couple of astronauts spent hours coming and going from; it probably got stepped on a few times. And then the lander took off again by firing a powerful rocket engine, directly blasting the area with high-velocity gases. You can see in a video of Apollo 17's lander launch that quite a lot of dust and debris gets blown about in the process. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXs4tncQcAE [youtube.com]

But frankly, even if that first footprint was still magically pristine, I don't think returning there and putting down new footprints would somehow "ruin" the historical significance. It would add to the historical significance. The site would no longer be just the site of the first manned lunar landing, it'd be the site of the first manned lunar landing and the first return to the site of the first manned lunar landing. That's pretty neat too.

Re:Why Worry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219231)

Erosion doesn't happen on the moon.

Re:Why Worry? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219275)

Well, remember that the landing site was also the starting site. Therefore a rocket motor was ignited right next to the original first boot-print. Even though it was a comparable small rocket, I would be mightily surprised if the exhaust wouldn't mess up the soil/dust around the landing site.

if man ever sets foot on the moon again (3, Interesting)

Blue Shifted (1078715) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219147)

it will darn near be just as special as the first time. it's been SO long since we've been there, in person.

the next footprint should be just as protected.

Re:if man ever sets foot on the moon again (3, Insightful)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219579)

I propose that each new footprint be protected more so than the last.

Contests like these... (2, Interesting)

tiger32kw (1236584) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219155)

These sort of contests work wonders towards inspiring new ideas and breaking away from old paradigms. In a free(ish) economy the main motivation is money. If you set out a prize for various pinnacles of innovation, then it is just a matter of time before they will be captured. If the goal is not achieved, then set the bounty higher. I love this idea for one and wish any attempts to gain the prize well! Break free from NASA's model, but don't step on the lunar dirt prints!

There is a house in New Orleans (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219165)

There is a house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun. No one visits it anymore, but it is a national landmark and can't be torn down to make way for newer high rises. It just gets older and more dilapidated as time goes by. It hasn't been visited since I was a poor boy.

So how many people actually went by to see that footprint or flag in the past year? Decade? 2 decades? 3 decades?

Re:There is a house in New Orleans (2, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219665)

I hope you remembered to tell your children, not to do as I have done ?

Me, I've got one foot on the platform, the other foot on the train. The train left 5 minutes ago, and now I have a severe crotch pain.

Thankfully, my mother is a tailor, and will be able to sew my ripped blue jeans. As for Father, he's either in a gambling house, or lying on top of a drunk (always confused me too, but listen to the original lyrics .. he does say "the only time he's satisfied is when he's *on* a drunk".

The Consipiracy Continues (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219169)

And keeping people away from the original "landing site" will keep them from figuring out that the first moon landing was faked by the government. (Or was it faked by our evil reptilian overlords? I can never keep that straight.)

Re:The Consipiracy Continues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219293)

Both, the government started, but during the great reptilian takeover of 1967 they were replaced by the reptilian overlords who sought to continue the charade in order to get people to watch it on tv so the mind control rays could have time to work.

It makes sense that you wouldn't know this, the mind control rays have been improved and now broudcast over the entire world, removing all trace of the reptilian takeover. Only a properly calibrated tinfoil hat can keep you safe.

Re:The Consipiracy Continues (3, Funny)

un1quen1ck (972732) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219309)

Yeah, as seen on Youtube, moon landing was faked on a soundstage on Mars. Otherwise, how come there's gravity if it's supposedly on Moon?

Re:The Consipiracy Continues (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219753)

Yeah, as seen on Youtube, moon landing was faked on a soundstage on Mars. Otherwise, how come there's gravity if it's supposedly on Moon?

No, it was sent to us from Jupiter. It was made by the "Humans" that live there and have for the past 2000+ years, even though they are our descendants (the first people on Jupiter will be born in 1000+ years).

Re:The Consipiracy Continues (2, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219311)

So your theory is the first bootprint on the moon was wiped out long ago by a camera operator on his smoke break?

Chinese Policy (4, Interesting)

Microlith (54737) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219183)

I remember reading long ago, forget where, that official CCP policy was that if they were to arrive on the moon before the US returned, their first goal was to remove as much evidence of American landing sites as possible so as to claim the US had lied and in fact China was the first on the moon.

Probably some wharrgarbl from the intertubes stuck in my head, but who knows.

Re:Chinese Policy (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219213)

Sounds impossible to me. You would have to hide tens of thousands of kilos of gear, clean up all those little bits of foam which rocketed around the landing sites and return the sites to their original state.

Re:Chinese Policy (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219223)

Or they could use the traditional method of setting up a factory and dumping tons of toxic waste into the area, eventually degrading the place to a point that no one remembers it ever being pristine.

Re:Chinese Policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219743)

Or the first commercial flight is used by the Coca-Cola corporation is to write Coke in big letters on the light side of the moon!

Ugh (3, Insightful)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219187)

Great, now we'll need to deal with the lunar version of NIMBYs. I was personally looking forward to Hydrogen 3 and titanium surface mining on the Moon. I want vast robotic factories on the Moon so we can start mass producing segments for cylinder-type space colonies. I want to be able to retire in one of those space colonies.

It is a shame that some people exist merely to hold the rest of us back from our ideal Star Trek future with green alien babes.

Re:Ugh (5, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219245)

It is a shame that some people exist merely to hold the rest of us back from our ideal Star Trek future with green alien babes.

Yeah.... and you know who was the best example of that? Captain Fucking James T. Kirk.

You think one of the "red shirts" got to do it with a green alien babe? Of course not. It was Captain Kirk nailing all the Intergalactic Strange throughout the Alpha Quadrant.

If we had that future, you would still be bitching. Your best option would be the overweight Bolian chick down in engineering. You would NOT want to go down to the planet. All you would ever hear about it is how Captain Kirk made it up back up with just a few seconds to spare, shirtless with sucker marks all over him, but Steve the poor S.O.B that transferred last week died a horrible death on the planet while some strange alien animal was sodomizing his corpse. Steve's parents would have to get a message about how his cause of death was "mauling by alien genitalia on Rontos 5".

Re:Ugh (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219765)

You think one of the "red shirts" got to do it with a green alien babe? Of course not. It was Captain Kirk nailing all the Intergalactic Strange throughout the Alpha Quadrant.

That is why I would replicate a yellow or blue shirt (assuming replicators are in existence yet) or steel one from an engineer or kill the captain.

Depends on who gets there next (3, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219197)

I can't imagine the bootprint lasting long if North Korea make it up there.

You think those were nuclear missiles they were firing? North Korea are planning the worlds first single stage rocket 'landing' on the moon, with their great leader strapped to the front because he is so awesome he can actually reduce drag.

Re:Depends on who gets there next (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219689)

Look everyone knows North Korea is just testing their rockets right ?

Once they've perfected the science, Kim Jong Il will be able to get his bagels delivered from Hong Kong that much faster ... erm, if he isn't already dead.

translation (5, Interesting)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219207)

"The sites of early lunar landings are of unparalleled significance in the history of humanity, and extraordinary caution should be taken to PREVENT EVER BEING ABLE TO PROVE THEY EVEN EXIST"

Idolatry (5, Insightful)

medoc (90780) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219209)

This is ridiculous idolatry. It's not like there is something we *don't* know about these events, there is nothing to discover there, and hence nothing to protect, as opposed to an archeological site.

Re:Idolatry (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219221)

This is ridiculous idolatry. It's not like there is something we *don't* know about these events, there is nothing to discover there, and hence nothing to protect, as opposed to an archeological site.

I would vote for preserving the apollo 11 landing site. The first footsteps on the moon represented a fundamental advance for our species. Maybe in 100000 years people will argue about when and where it happened. Much as we debate the migration out of africa.

100000 years ? (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219535)

In that many years it will either be remembered and documented (and thus no need for a "special" preservation or it will be forgotten and that special preservation is useless.

Re:100000 years ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219637)

Exactly. The difference between migrating from Africa and landing on the moon is that the apes didn't write books about it.

Whalers on the moon (1)

Supurcell (834022) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219643)

Don't assume this civilization will last forever. Suppose that we end up in a nuclear war, lose all our electronically stored information through global power outages, hundreds of years go by, our textbooks crumble, and all that is left are crumbling stone memorials in a dead language, oh and one DVD of Futurama.

We're whalers on the moon, we carry a harpoon!

Re:Idolatry (1)

gnieboer (1272482) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219641)

I'm pretty astonished at how many people here think that footprint is still there. FOLKS, THE MOON LANDER TOOK OFF AGAIN. That expelled gas w/ a velocity which equals a temporary wind, even on an airless planet.
Sorry for shouting, but that footprint is long long gone. The equipment there will still be around someplace, probably covered in dust and scattered everywhere, mostly.

Re:Idolatry (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219725)

The ascent stage used the descent stage as a launch pad. Footprints immediately around the lander wouldn't have been sprayed with exhaust until the ascent stage was a couple of metres into its trajectory. After that the ascent stage changed attitude to point along the ascent track. This would have pointed the engine back along the landing track, away from the landing site.

It is possible (but unlikely) that the first footprints beside the ladder at the front of the descent stage are still there in some form. I believe it is certain that footprints further away, particularly out around West Crater are still there.

Re:Idolatry (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219459)

So... you're saying only things with something left to discover are worth preserving? Just checking.

Re:Idolatry (1, Flamebait)

hvm2hvm (1208954) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219555)

Isn't that the way most of historical data is lost? People not saving important information because it's common sense for them. I want wikipedia (and other enciclopaedias) saved in some very reliable and autonomous computer with a sexy woman AI voice (or maybe Morgan Freeman's) that will explain everything you ask about human history.

That way in 3000 years when people have restarted civilization after a nuclear war they can find out about human life and maybe accelerate their development faster than the last one so they don't have to go through 1000 years of dark ages again (and maybe they won't start up with religious bullshit either).

Re:Idolatry (1)

Ma8thew (861741) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219787)

Maybe if previous generations in history hadn't had this attitude, we would know more about them today. Some day, many years from now, people may wish we had preserved the place man first walked on the moon. Guess what, all archeological sites were at one point places where there was 'nothing to discover'.

Uhhh.... (3, Insightful)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219255)

The first bootprint was likely obliterated by the lunar ascent engine exhaust on the way out. Hello!

Re:Uhhh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219413)

Quite true! We have to remember that lunar dust is a very fine a loose material. I highly doubt that the footprint would still exist after the firing of the ascent engine. Not to mention the fact that they probably walked over that same spot a few times. It was at the bottom of the ladder! Even if they wanted to, I doubt they could have avoided disturbing the footprint. However people have this romantic thought in their minds that Armstrong's first footprint is still up there and perfect. Even people who should know better. ;)

Re:Uhhh.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219547)

Or even by Armstrongs other foot. Or by the same foot on the way back in to the lander.
Or by either of Aldrins two feet.

Re:Uhhh.... (4, Informative)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219561)

Perhaps somewhat, but remember that the lunar module that blasted off from the surface of the moon was only the top half of the part that landed. The bottom half served as a launch platform and probably took the brunt of the blast.

Apollo 17 lunar module ascent. [youtube.com]

Re:Uhhh.... (0, Offtopic)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219599)

But if it wasn't....

I'm thinking that a plaster cast [wikipedia.org] of Armstrong's, uh, boot would be one of the most meaningful things in human possession. I, for one, want as many lunar missions as necessary in order to ensure that a plaster cast [wikipedia.org] of the item is successful, to preserve it for an eternity of gawkers and onlookers.

Unless, of course, he [wikipedia.org] declines to be enshrined [science.uva.nl] , in which case the whole point is moot anyway.

Sea of Tranquility National Park (3, Insightful)

metaforest (685350) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219303)

Why not? I personally think that preserving the artifacts of the first moon landing should be considered important.

Though realistically.... Neil Armstrong's first boot print was most likely obliterated when the LEM blasted off.

There's a lot of moon up there. I see no reason to disturb the existing landing sites until we have the means to preserve them properly.

Just like on Earth... (1)

Chris Snook (872473) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219497)

...where it's illegal to build within 100km of historical landmarks.

Oh, wait.

OK smartass... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219649)

The no-build distance from historical landmarks is lesser on Earth because of the lack of free space here.
There is just less of it on Earth to go around, so we have to work with what we have.
On the Moon, it being bigger than the Earth, there is a shitload more free space to go around and it is only logical to have more of it protected.
I mean come on... What's a couple of hundred kilometers on the Moon? That fucker is huge! Bigger than the Sun, only it is really far away so it seems small.

They're gonna get hit by a meteorite anyway. (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219525)

It's just a matter of time until some chunk of space rock comes along and obliterates the whole landing site, bootprints, flags, rovers and all. Where do they think all the craters on the moon come from?

Re:They're gonna get hit by a meteorite anyway. (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219671)

My thinking exactly. I'd be interested in the odds of a meteor strike of sufficient magnitude to destroy (or sufficiently damage) what little evidence there is of our first few landings there occurring before any X-prize mission happens to land in the same location and do the equivalent damage.

How many GLXP teams will actually make it? (2, Interesting)

Dante_J (226787) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219585)

Between now and the 2012 deadline we're likely to hear more and more of the developments and adventures or the various GLXP teams.

http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/lunar/teams [googlelunarxprize.org]

A more appropriate question is of all the GLXP teams, how many will actually get to the point of getting off the ground and doing a successful Trans Lunar Injection, and of that number, how many are actually going to attempt to meet the "imaging man made artefacts" criteria.

Official GLXP team; White Label Space has recently written of it's Lunar landing intentions and the focus seems to be more on finding water (another bonus) than finding Apollo, Lunokhod, Surveyor et al. They're considering the peaks of eternal light near the Moon's south pole which would also provide nearby landing sites with rover routes into the permanently shadowed zones.

http://www.whitelabelspace.com/2009/05/preliminary-landing-site-considerations.html [whitelabelspace.com]

Here we go again (3, Interesting)

squoozer (730327) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219589)

I hope that I'm not the only one that is fed up with this modern approach to trying to preserve everything we ever do. Why can't we be happy with the knowledge that we did it? If I got a chance to see the first boot print on the moon I'd jump at it but would my life be any worse if that boot print accidentally got driven over, hardly. I'm not advocating that we should go out of our way to erase history just let it take care of itself.

I'd bet that 99.999% of the population probably didn't even realize that there was a first boot print still up there and now they will get all up in arms because it might at some point in the future get erased. Sigh. Give me a solution to world hunger, fusion power and a decent internet connection first and then I'll care.

Footprints? meh! keep the tech? yes (4, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219633)

There is some scientific value in stopping the tech (all of it, not merely the apollo stuff for sentimental reasons) from getting contaminated. That's to help us assess how materials and electronics survive in the harsh, irradiated environment. I realise the electronics is decades obsolete, but the components may yield usable data if they are analysed - not just left to rot away.

After all we explore wrecks on the ocean floors, the landers should be afforded the same status for scientific investigation.

As it is, We've still got Neil's boot, so we can make more footprints anytime.

Lunar environmentalism (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219645)

Nothing wrong here, just environmentalists doing their thing. They also think we should stop exploring Mars, as we might disturb the environment there, too. They view space exploration as nothing more than a virus looking for new hosts to infect.

What footprint, are you guys nuts (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219679)

OK a photo was taken of the first footprint. I am guessing they walked all over it during the mission.
It was inconveniently placed at the bottom of the step ladder.

It is unlikely to have survived the first few minutes, let alone the blastoff

G

Re:What footprint, are you guys nuts (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219713)

Yes, what was Neil *thinking* of ?

Obviously he should have jumped off the top of the ladder, and with the moons reduced gravity etc, he could have placed his first boot print a good 30 metres away from the ladder, and with a deeper impression to make it less likely to erode.

One small leap for (a) man, one giant bootprint for mankind.

Neil and (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219715)

Actually, I think that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would be _thrilled_ if it became a popular picnic spot, with kids climbing over it and tourists pinching moon rocks. Because that would mean that humans have in fact settled there and made it a fact of life, rather than the expensive military publicity stunt their original visit was.

I think they'd settle happily for making the square kilometor a Lunar equivalent of a national monument, and having the tourist booth with the commemorative flags and the funny hats and the "authentic" souvenirs just outside it, though.

Re:Neil and Buzz and Bing (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219773)

Don't forget Bing Gordyn, the 8th man on the moon. And the first one with a mustache, so basically the first man on the moon (with mustache). On the moon. Moon! Moon! Moon!

Capitalism IN SPACE (1)

dugeen (1224138) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219745)

This issue draws attention to the danger of encouraging for-profit space travel. If in 50 years' time you find yourself looking up at the moon and seeing a Microsoft logo on it, don't say I didn't warn you.

this is so immoral (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28219775)

The X-prize is so immoral. To think that while some starve, one group of people can become so rich as to invest in this sort of folly.

Cue fat nerds who have never experienced hardship explaining why the poor should die and why this is actually more important than saving human lives back on earth.

Bill Gates has the right idea of what to do when you have too much money. He is doing so much good right now.

Unnecessary... (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 4 years ago | (#28219781)

The Eagle's descent stage is still in place. This is a fairly substantial piece of kit with lots of angular edges that could do a lot of damage to a descending experimental lunar vehicle.

I wouldn't want to go anywhere near that thing.

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