It is a well-known fact that NASA and other space agencies around the world are planning to explore earth’s natural satellite the moon in this decade. They are hoping to establish a required infrastructure to support the sustainable plan of crewed exploration and research on the moon. The commercial space sector is planning to develop lunar tourism and mining as well, which will involve extracting and selling some of the vast resources of the moon in the open market. However, an international team of scientists has said that there might not be sufficient resources on the moon to go around. Experts have said that without some stringent international policies and deals to find out who can claim what and where, the celestial body will instantly become congested, overstrained, and stripped of its resources. This study has been done by scientists from the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The findings of the study have been released in the Philosophical Transactions of Royal Society A called Concentrated Lunar Resources.
Experts have said that they have observed many parts of the moon and found that most places do not have enough resources that have become a matter of interest for many countries. There are many space agencies and other firms in the private sector who are planning to land on the moon in the next five years. They have warned that in the absence of clear international policies, it might create a conflict between the agencies over the resources of the moon. There are some treaties in place for governing activities on the celestial body. The US, the UK, and the Soviet Union had signed a treaty in 1967 titled ‘Outer Space Treaty’. Since then it has been sanctioned by 110 countries. This treaty prohibits nations from declaring control over celestial bodies including the moon. It bans the testing and deployment of nuclear weapons in space as well. More recently, ‘Artemis Accords’ a new treaty has been put in place. It ensures all the participants of the treaty inform each other about their activities on the moon. However, this treaty does not forbid private sector firms and people from claiming sovereignty over outer space bodies. Such a condition gives them free access to things like lunar mining and asteroid prospecting and mining.
Many discussions over scientific and commercial activities on the moon have been going on more recently. Authorities have been discussing the rules regarding who can extract the materials from which part of the moon. Earlier, in the Apollo Era, extensive research had been done to explore the possibility of resources like water, iron, and helium, however in the modern era; the research has focused on constant access to solar power, water ice deposits, and volatile compounds. As per the scientists, the variety of resources is not a matter of concern; rather the problem is that everyone has been targeting the same sites and resources. There are limited resources on the moon and all have to work together. Experts have said that there should be a legal regime in place before conducting any scientific or commercial activities on the moon. All activities on the moon should be consistent with international law. The Outer Space Treat and Artemis Accords as well can hold signatories responsible for activities of third parties situated in the region where they have authority.
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