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Scientists seek treaty to save famous space places

Apollo 11 landing site
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin sets up scientific experiments on the surface of the moon during the historic 1969 mission. (NASA Photo / Neil Armstrong)

What’s the best way to preserve the Apollo footprints on the moon, the Face on Mars, or the mysterious “white spots” on the dwarf planet Ceres? A pair of researchers argue that there ought to be an international treaty.

They say the Antarctic Treaty, which sets aside that icy continent and its mineral resources as a natural preserve, could serve as a model for what they call the Exogeoconservation Treaty.

“It is better if we do it ahead of the interest in space rather than after the fact,” Jack Matthews, a geologist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, told GeekWire on Sunday.

But an expert on space law said the prospects for such a treaty are dim, particularly in light of rising interest in commercial activities on the moon.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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