To the moon and beyond 4: What's the point of going back to the moon?
Who Actually owns the moon? Stick speaking no one or probably it's a bit more precise to say allstate's jointly owned the moon because it's an international territory which can never become part of the national territory of one single state. This is friends vander dunk professor of space law at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in the U._S.. I asked him about what laws are in place to govern the moon and he told me that legally the moon can't be owned by any one country. This was enshrined in something called the Outer Space Treaty signed way back in nineteen sixty seven two years before Neil Armstrong and Baldwin had even set foot the lunar surface but France told me that the legal status of any resources found on the moon Rice's a whole other set of questions particularly for those who want to go and extract them. Does this calmed status is Global Common State is off the moon. I mean that's all the resources of the moon arte common property of mankind as well or are they by contrast resources that every individual state is entitled to harvest so if you get to the moon it's not clear yet whether you can just take whatever you want and even if you get there find loads of valuable minerals and set up an actual mining base you'll face a second legal question while it is also not possible legally at least to permanently occupy the moon as a consequence with the absence of territorial sovereignty the question is how long are you entitled to use it that there's no coalition Asian or putting the installation on the Mon doesn't mean that you're entitled to run the installation for five years or for fifteen years of four hundred years before it's runs into the violation of permanent occupation so the law is unclear how how long you're allowed to stay or set up camp for and then Francaise you'd face a third issue around who could go nosing around your mining installation. There is a principal free access to the facilities of everyone everyone else on the moon on the basis reciprocity but at the same time there is a requirement to refrain from harmful interference now when is a visit for example to another mining insulation. When is that harmful interference? What does the freedom of XS this means so those those are basically two three main issues that need to be solves in order to get a proper regime for for mining moon in the previous episode of to the moon and beyond a podcast series from the conversation we heard about today's new space race and the many countries and companies entering the fray in this episode we'll be looking at what is drawing so many of these missions back to the lunar surface and what other practical legal and ethical questions facing racing those who want to set up a base that and potentially start mining on the moon? I'm Miriam Frankel Science editor at the conversation U._K.. And I'm Martin Archer Space Plasma physicists at Queen Mary University of London and you're listening not the moon and I think it's a an experienced. It's not only physically different but allows you to have a bigger picture where we are our universe in no other country has undertaken a lunar landing program basically because it's still hard. It's still very expensive and at least is an argument of whether it's worth doing or not I wish is that this should internationally diver rather than necessary competition spreading across our solar system is the same thing to do. It's both smart thing in terms of making us more resilient as basis but I also think I think this is a way of opening up to the potential of humanity on Apollo eleven so the Americans call it a lunar surface assets. It sounds pretty boring. Well actually is at Marian is just another name for Year I might call moon base and that's a has plans under what's called the artists program artists being the twin sister of blow in Greek mythology to to set up by twenty twenty eight and that's to have what they called a sustained human presence on the moon which is funny because actually NASA already has a mission currently in operation called Artemis which is in orbit around the moon so they're using the name twice <hes> but really twenty twenty eight is not far away. I mean less than a decade. We could have people living on the moon. That's crazy well. That is the plan and the Americans aren't the only ones who want to start living on the moon. Somebody else might even get their first. In April this year. The Chinese have said that they want to build a scientific based on the moon South Pole and that's within the next ten years and surely the Russians will be getting in there as well Yep Yep they want to set up camp too but it might take them a bit longer so last last year. The Russian Space Agency Roscosmos said that it wants to set up a colony on the moon by twenty four t which is a bit further in the future but I mean according to that it seems like Americans might get there. I I wonder actually if in fact it's GONNA end up being an international collaboration right. We don't have the political tensions that means that we have to have a space race. You see what the International Space Station. There's a lot more collaboration even when politically things on always great between the nation's I wonder terrific all going to get together and do something bigger collaboratively. I think that means I mean the U._S.. Will certainly be involved because they're open to collaborate with other countries whereas some countries such as China. They're more likely to want to do these things completely -pletely on their own which means that they might actually take a bit longer even though they are also planning on going back there yeah the things might change we don't we have to look to the future just not too far in the future where kind of jumping ahead of ourselves here and you know with all this talk of of setting up a base again on the moon. I'm still wondering is not really got any safer as it well this different elements to that I think because I think we comparing to the Apollo missions a lot of the dangers as well as there's a natural environment of space itself was literally in the space exploration. I think we've demonstrated that. We're a lot better at that. Now we've developed technology. We're aware of a lot more of the risks. Even though we still do see we do get rocket. Explosions and things like dot says it is still inherently risky but I think the exploration aspect is probably a little safer than it was fifty years ago but as we've talked about before you haven't changed the fact that radiation in spaces is ready not a a great thing damaging cosmic rays and from the sun we talked about that in a previous episode and the inherent sort of degradation of the human body just by being off of this planet says well we decided to call up a doctor to find out what other problems going to space can call to the human body my name stuck to rowing Christianson. I'm a medical educator. At the University of Melbourne she looks at what happens to the body in extreme environments armaments including in space and when I asked her what risks there are of being in space or on the moon for long periods of time. She said that the worst side effects actually happened after only forty eight hours that can include altered altered immune function volume shifts so you tend to get a fluid shift from the bottom half of your body to the top half of your body and get a puffy face and your sense of smell gets diminished so that's a bit like when you're on an airplane and everything kind of tastes and smells different and that's pretty well understood the tissues get a bit woche locked it like when you have a cold and you've we've Lucy since smell and actually I'm taste is very closely tied to yo censored smells so if your ability to smell is obstructed in some way than potentially see that's going to affect your taste as well and so the astronauts in needed National Space Station often ask for food that sort of malls spy seat than tonight with normally like tweet on. The count tastings as well as they would. There can be another potentially more serious side effects of having more fluid and so more pressure in your head that is that astronauts fusion can be affected and and the shape they've eyeball can actually change and the some astronauts sets meant. They've been left with long-term visual changes as a result that is pretty concerning once you get back to us. The body doesn't correct itself and go back to normal it doesn't do that for everyone and Reno told me that some astronauts have been left actually needing to wear glasses and so that could be a bit of a concerned if astronauts are traveling for six to eight months to go away to Mars <hes> astronaut still going to get there with good enough vision to be able to to all the things that they need to do and actually one of the side effects which the Apollo astronauts noted was the they had impaired ability to evaluate distance and so that could potentially be risky thing in terms of landing space craft safely while so even even just the short term threat to the moon they were still seeing these sorts of problems so it's only going to be worse on trips to Mars but I mean there are other effects as well. What about motion sickness from living in an environment without gravity? Yeah Ruina has had that can be a big problem in the first couple of days the balance system in your in ear. I longer knows whether your your oppo down what sideways and so it gets terribly confused and so there's always had possibility of nausea. Being sick is bad enough on earth and I don't want to imagine vomiting in zero gravity. Just go every way but Ruina told me that actually the lack of gravity has too much more serious consequences your muscles start to lose mass because they don't have to work against gravity any more and that includes the heart which is basically just divide up muscle and also you bone mineral density tends to decrease and even with the Gemini and Apollo missions which didn't last more than about two weeks in total they I noticed a loss in in Bandon city of round to default percent so to combat this weakening effect that zero gravity has on your muscles and bones astronauts aboard the International Space Station exercise around around two hours a day strapped to kind of treadmill and they also pump weights but as we can say it doesn't completely combat the side effects because when they come back to they have to be carried out of the captial so for any people living on the moon in the future Rowena arena says that exercise will be essential for instance on the moon because the Moon Ernie has point one six of the gravity of earth so that's really not going to be anywhere near enough to counter the effects of Vanowen in microgravity and the other thing that people often forget about two is that if you won't be able to maintain healthy the body and a healthy muscle mass you going to need the right kind of nutrients are going to need it balance nutritious diet and that set certainly possible where earth is able all to supply that kind of balance nutritious start and so to pack up and send it to to the base but I think it's a lot more interesting issue for for long-term settlements in terms of will they be able to grow enough of the right kind of food to actually keep people healthy and I think that's going to be a major challenge. If you saw the film the Martian with Matt Damon I mean he he was making potatoes and even he got sick of them even with all the catch up and stuff like that so even if you get off of the space ration pox it could still not that great right yeah about space ration pox they do see <music> awful. I think the look of adventure food or even my child's baby food I found it hard to even taste it. It just looks disgusting. Wall Street is very important part of life certainly mine. They're all going to be other problems. Facing a Luna base with people living on the main problem that will face on the moon is the fact that day is about twenty nine Thursday non this is Frederick Moran and Astrophysicist the Strasbourg Astronomical Observatory at the University of Strasbourg France he says because if there's a long day and night humans living on the moon we'll have a completely different body clock you will have two weeks of sunlight followed by two weeks night so it means that the production of energy using lead say solar panels we not be possible unless we wlob very very rich and an empty storage unions so basically leaving an walking on the moon. We'll I'll have a totally different scandal as on earth and so these are not very strong impact on to humans on top of this the surface of the moon is covered with dust the big thing and it's why tiny or humans so it means that Earth would be very important to take care of cleaning the doubts out of the men's and out of the gears or where the wound and this is that it will destroy slowly the machineries the wow nice hospitable environment than thought moon-dust is really nasty stuff it clings to absolutely everything and apparently according to the Apollo astronauts they could smell it when they go back into the module had this sort of metallic smell which then almost faded entirely very quickly so actually the moon-dust back here on earth doesn't have the smell date. Wow we wanted to find out why there's so much interest though in going back to the moon again what lies beneath the moon's dusty surface there is so enticing to find out what scientists actually no east then we called up Catherine Joy Royal Society University Research Fellow and geologist in the school of F. and environmental sciences at the University of Manchester in the rethink me on the staff that there are many potential different resources assists available asks the lunar surface this means everything from Walter and oxygen which are useful both within the context of human exploration will building bases atmospheres will teach astronauts nationals to survive on the lunar surface and for use in converting with water and oxygen into rocket fuels propellants for exploration. I the aspects of the Moon will using the moon is a platform access arrested deep space in virus. This is something that Professor Yang Jiao mentioned in the last episode harvesting the world's from the moon splitting that into hydrogen oxygen you can then react them together again and that's essentially what goes on inside Iraq Catherine Joy says that together oxygen you can either heat moon rocks up to really high temperatures all break them up using acid or similar practices and water potentially available both tracked within some of the rocks minerals and also rethink within ice. I suppose it now. This is where things get <unk> controversial. We think that within the Luna polls there are regions of impact craters preserve isis being the nicotine through time however what we don't understand is the distribution I and the depths of that is whether it is solid ice or whether it's kind of particular ice trapped within Mineral Baynes and so the great question we have next is not so much intense. How can we go to mind the moon but first of all we need to understand stands for potential resource as unwed allocated how accessible and we need to develop technology to be able to detect them on extracts them to make them useable products another substance <unk> those as in favor of going back to the moon light to talk about a something called helium three helium three is one of the isotopes all the elements helium which is not comment macfound Helena so helium three is found? <unk> Luna sacrifice because it's been delivered there by the Soda Wind. It's been implanted as the moon poces through face being exposed to radiation from the some and the some than in Plums Humam <unk> directly insects the main because it's not affected by the implementation process happens all the time however they're all set regions the moon when we have high concentrations of this element heating straight we think in particular society the Mineral Ilmenite which is attained him rich mineral which really lost soccer union's structure the reason helium three is so interesting is because it could potentially be used within a nuclear process to make electricity here on re undertake Nikki efficient <unk> power reactors but within the some we have the purchase of Nikiel fusion and if we want to develop clean patient techniques only us we need the element summit heating three to be involved with that price as this is why people suggested the moon will be a great place to go in mind heaves ray potentially bring it back to the to use impeach a clean energy uniquely occasion Kala generation however there is a a lot of controversy about is the moon is really viable results of helium three whilst we know it's their entire abundances in hair on whether it's actually extractable mineable trump's both box the still has to be proven. What else could we find on the moon then if we went digging for it while Joyce says there are some discussions that could be precious metals up there such as platinum group metals gold palladium elements used in mobile phones and the clean energy industry taken the elements on not connie associated with Luna rox themselves however they could be delivered to the Moon Seth is by colliding Makarevich asteroids and so there is a lot of description around finding places on moon wet asteroids <unk> toughest delivering these types of precious metals could be accessible extraction purification so I guess this brings us back to the question of weather? If any future moon missions found any any of these resources what they'd be allowed to do with them well from what we had earlier from France funded dunk it sounds as if the lowest really quite ready for that happen yeah and to find out a bit more about the laws in place we called up another space lawyer. My name is on your muscles and I am an assistant professor and deputy director of the International Institute of Air Space Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. I asked Tanya about the Moon Treaty also known as the Moon Soon Agreement and international agreements made in one thousand nine hundred seventy nine goes. It's only eighteen countries that have ratified it and a couple more at have signed it <hes> and so it is sometimes referred to as a field treaty because does it is quite controversial. Eighteen ratifications is an a lot and the countries that are signed up are those that you wouldn't associate with space expiration anyway the Netherlands Belgium Paxton Austria so neither the United States nor Russia China India nor Franz have ratified moon agreements that is because mainly because it contains the concept of what is called the common heritage of mankind the treaty cents that the moon and its resources assists and the moon actually implies all celestial bodies the moon and all other celestial bodies are the common heritage of mankind and it is not entirely clear what this means the common heritage of mankind doesn't mean that everything that accompany could could have in prophets from exploiting resources outerspace has to be split among all the countries members of the United Nations what exactly it means is unclear and that is why many states don't like it and will not ratify it so this is different from what was agreed in the outer space treaty signed a decade before nine hundred sixty seven. Yes that's right the outer space treaty contain another concept called the province of mankind which is a little bit more vague egg. If you're like which is perhaps more moral obligation that we have to somehow share benefits and have everyone of course <hes> be part of this new endeavor the Moon Agreement the common heritage principle is that is the reason why streets is not ratified right by mainly to space powers some if none of the spice powers wants to sign the Moon Treaty and if they haven't done cy footy later. It's not really looking likely that it's going to happen. Does that mean the time is nine for another. You might think so but Tanya Mia says that is unlikely to happen either so I'm not very optimistic about the chances of success of having a new treaty and you see in in the world today states are not very willing to give up their sovereignty by adhering to new treaties and you see it in aviation or into area of climate change and other areas so even though there are areas where states should agree on things they usually do that in the form of what we call soft law so non-legally binding principles that do lay down the behavior of state. She says there are certain areas and issues where everybody agrees that rules are needed. I believe that space debris management space traffic management long-term sustainability of space activities and certainly also use of space resources sources are good examples but I expect that it will rather be done into form of guidelines or standards and not really in the form of for new treaty because the geopolitical situation is not very positive about adopting new treaties. She's she's actually been busy over the last few years as part of The Hague International Working Group at collaboration of academics companies and international organizations who are all thinking about what those new guidelines might look like and they're going to be making their ideas or what they call building blocks public towards the end of the year. One of their main ideas is to have legal principles that are adaptive so able to deal with issues as they arrive. We should should look at topics that are going to be happening. I and try to find solutions for those and not look too far in the future for instance we should not now put in stone what is going to be <hes> the framework for bringing back platinum to Earth. I mean clearly we will be using first outerspace resources in outer space so let's look at that but she says a key part of any future framework will be principles of planetary protection so making sure the space environment isn't spoiled for future expiration and we'll be talking a bit more about this and our next episode and considering the problem of humans going to other planets and contaminating them with our alien earth bacteria Korean microbes however on the Moon where pretty sure that there isn't any live so currently but actually there are some ideas that very early in the moon's formation when when it was still volcanically active that could have been the conditions present life so actually the real issue is that if we're going mining the moon we might be destroying the evidence of past life on the main which such as losses exactly or dead microbes or leftover things like that so we don't want to destroy that evidence. If we go up mining the moon yeah that makes a lot of sense but a lot of other people are bit worried because the means really important in stabilizing the but that's not really an issue it would take us like two hundred odd million years so even just mind one percent of the means mass so we shouldn't be worried that is gonNA muck up the environment on earth well. That's a relief I asked France Vendor Dunk about what the punishments would be for those who break International Space Law unfortunately outer space is not different from the international community as hope put in the sense that there is no global police force as global judge who can punish the guilty of violators and we've seen that of course in other areas of the international community as well and the big states are able to get away a bit more or with much more grody than the smallest states so then it boils down into political punishment if the certain state is seeing to violating the international rules swear by itself will by proxy or uh-huh because of his private operators that may be a political punishments. All the states may boycott that states may raise political stink about. It's a look at a harsher punishment look like I mean even if it's hard to actually introduce. Economic Boycotts in any particular context of mining of the moon this of course an interesting option because we should realize that the companies that are at our few companies which have claimed that they are very interested in this possibility in particularly in the United States while obviously companies want to has the largest possible market that they can have which means that they want to be able to sell the stock legally across the world and in particular if we're talking about illegal business where the investment runs into the billions before you get your first resources on the market you don't WanNa then have to start arguing about market access say this would be a little bit like blood diamonds today diamonds that have come from MM conflict zones if resources remind illegally on the moon then the companies or countries that did it might lose a lot of money. Do you think there could ever be a scenario where countries went to war over resources since space and what would that look like I mean would it be similar to the U._S.. China trade war it could well be a obviously if if there are interest at stake of that size you know if we're talking about billions potentially billions or even trillions worth of economic resources than obviously and we've seen throughout history the incentive is there for the states who can get that to try to get as large share as possible and if that's it's not enough for everyone or not enough low hanging fruit for around the likelihood for conflicts is certainly right it will probably start I the level of trade or which is of course in actual war Indiv- physical sense of the word but can already they do a lot of damage to everyone around but if things will escalate as we've seen in the boss economic horse can also lamb escalate into real fighting. I can only say I hope that never happens. I can only say as a lawyer that we can at least help a little bit by creating fair and transparent and legal systems. We can help a little bit in trying to threat that danger wow as a space trade war seems like George Lucas was right with these principles I it sounds kind of exciting and boring at the same time yeah the pre close I asked France whether it's ethical that those who can afford to go and mind the moon do it head and those who can't don't use worth ESCO already so that his question that goes beyond the law itself. I think the answer is a caveat yes yes it's ethical because if you do not allow those who can afford to do its key to go there. We will probably never go that box. We should allow those go ahead within the realm of a solid legal framework which protects the main public interests think about safety think about security ready think about the environment is face debris and also think about at least a level of international sharing. I don't talk about an international the taxation on stuff like that but that should obviously the impossibility for more than just a handful of players to benefit from that has to be a certain system which also allows late commerce still to find a benefit in held up hold up. I getting ahead of ourselves <music> well when we just catherine joy. She said we're still a long way off all of this even if companies can identify where they want Simone and get the funding in place to do it. They're going to face multiple challenges oranges in getting the stuff out so this festival. How do you the soil how do you expect the ground and the type solve technology use the range from small diggers bucket tools through to corey devices it? How do they system to deal with shock abrasive dust working in low gravity environments how it considerations for how those instrumentation can be sustained in a Gerbil white through the lunar nights and three day aging needs to settle Donald Technology? You need to think about nuclear powered radio is type generators and that really depends on way. Oh going on the moon. Do you need to operate in a by code crater environment so you need to have electronic systems that can operate right under extreme cold. Do you need operate within the High Luna daytime so your electronic systems need to lost on two hundred fifty degree heat conditions all those types of things can survive in by Hauch radiation environments and then once you've extracts that Syria how that soil into usable feedstock so you'll have to sit on desegregated getting down to the grain size that you need to protect your final processing tool be it an oven be. It's a microwave Alvan at Beit some sort of cover semi reduction system in a loss of complexities h stage of that production process that technology has to be perfected report KANOBI couplets gets into working system and if you're doing this robotically that requires a lot of things I tell you operations automation of systems or do you crew to do some humans on the second facilitate these types of bright complex operations and so this is what we're communities getting together to think about is that's how we get into work as a some of many different call wow that's a serious amount of unknowns you know they don't focus on all that mundane technical stuff in science fiction films do they well no I because they're trying to make them entertaining rather than realistic. Some of them are more realistic than others. Let's say but still entertaining. That's the main point back to reality though Catherine says that samples are going to be really crucial particularly if we you want to understand if they will at Blue Napoles being luna soccer person I would love to have a piece of those songs back in our lab hair on because when we actually grab the Isis volatile rich mature voluntary very slow bring it back to our lab we can also questions much more easily Demi Cam by sending reports it runs to the moon itself so I'd like to challenge peaches face agencies and results commercial providers to get a species on bullets Louis how rich <unk> vices back here on that we can study sedan really address. Some of these scientific questions we have about the nature the origin associates of volatile at moon on whether these bullets come from the rest of the solar system to siphon none of the international missions to the main a factory and what's needed to bring back up look vice dates. There isn't a true IC- retired mission on the books when you cryogenic could preserve ice and get back to <unk> challenge preserving cryogenically material assets on a very low temperatures so so blake reductions hemorrhages in in a capsule getting off the moon getting bathroom moon to US orbit and then actually getting to survive back down through a atmosphere a robotic plex here on a Catherine says if we can test out this capability on the moon somewhere where we've landed before then it will be useful for those who've I'd love to do the same on comet or asteroids or even some of the solar systems icy moons around planets like Jupiter and Saturn yeah these are some of the places the scientists will love to explore a fake off the chance and we'll be talking to some about using using the Moon Asa launch pad to go deeper into space in our next and final episode of the series places. The are really really liked to go to all other places were life might be places like Mas obviously and and places like Euro per and relatives that's in the last episode of to the Moon and beyond when we'll be looking ahead to twenty sixty nine and to what space exploration will look like a hundred years after Neil Armstrong I stepped apt on the moon to make sure you don't miss this subscribed to the moon and beyond wherever you get your podcast you can also find all the episodes on the conversation dot com where you'll also find loads more articles from academics around the World Marking The fiftieth anniversary a Vestry of the NASA Moon Landings and if you like this podcast please give us a review on spotify or I._T._N.'s. It really does help and if you have any questions about the series you can get in touch via email on podcast up the conversation dot com or you can reach me on twitter at Mirren Frankel. I'm on Switzerland at modern oddity a big thanks to all the academics spoke to us for this episode unto the Journalism Department at City University of London for letting US use their studios thanks to.