By Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press, May 29, 2018.
A Canadian scientist calls for action to protect significant geological and historical features on the Moon, Mars and other planets.
Jack Matthews of the Memorial University of Newfoundland says as nations and private companies are exploring and developing space, there is a growing threat to alien environments.
"A global agreement to protect key locations is needed before it's too late," he said Tuesday in an interview from Oxford, England.
Matthews, a postdoctoral fellow in Memorials Department of Earth Sciences, and Sean McMahon of the UK Center for Astrobiology have just published a paper on the subject.
"The solar system holds billions of years of geological heritage," said McMahon. "We owe it to future generations not to waste their heritage."
Matthews said that historic and cultural sites including the Apollo 1
"There's a human footprint on another celestial body, that footprint still exists because there's no moon atmosphere, so there is no wind, so this dusty footprint is still there, on the surface Preserved by the Moon. "
Matthews said that with a number of countries and private companies actively preparing to send people beyond the earth, now is the time for discussion and debate. 19659004] SpaceX, a private American company founded by Elon Musk, aims to send its first cargo mission to Mars in 2022.
The People's Republic of China has launched a manned space program, while the European Union, Japan and India have also planned future manned space missions.
The newspaper was published Tuesday in "Acta Astronautica", a publication of the International Academy of Austronautics.
Matthews said that their proposal of exploration or resource would not stand in the way of development, but would protect places like Valles Marineris – known as the Mars version of the Grand Canyon.
"We want to get very specific, important places that either culturally or hi represent storied or instructive or scientific or even just aesthetic." There are wonderful landscapes that we have seen on photos of the Curiosity Rover and other rovers that, when they would be on Earth, no doubt national parks, "he said.
It is expected that explorers will have to mine other planets or otherwise they will deprive the resources needed to supply water and rocket fuel for the return home, for colonization or further into the solar system.
Matthews said only because we can not go to these sites, at the moment do not make them were less worthy of protection.
He said that the countries of the world had come together to protect the Antarctic under the Antarctic Treaty, and the same could be done to protect areas in outer space, and he hopes their paper will trigger the discussion  ] Matthews said he envisioned that a governing body could be inside or parallel to the United Nations.
He said existing records protecting Earth's geological heritage could be used on other planets in what he calls exogeo conservation
Matthews said it could take years to reach an agreement so that Discussion and debate must begin now.
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