2012: The Google X Lunar Prize, a privately funded competition centered around space exploration, has announced that all teams hoping to win the 30 million dollar prize for landing a robot on the moon must follow NASA protocol regarding historic lunar sites. A press release issued jointly by the X Prize committee and NASA breaks the news:
NASA recognizes that many spacefaring nations and commercial entities are on the verge of landing spacecraft on the moon. The agency engaged in a cooperative dialogue with the X Prize Foundation and the Google Lunar X Prize teams to develop the recommendations. NASA and the next generation of lunar explorers share a common interest in preserving humanity's first steps on another celestial body and protecting ongoing science from the potentially damaging effects of nearby landers.
NASA assembled the guidelines using data from previous lunar studies and analysis of the unmanned lander Surveyor 3's samples after Apollo 12 landed nearby in 1969. Experts from the historic, scientific and flight-planning communities also contributed to the technical recommendations. The guidelines do not represent mandatory U.S. or international requirements. NASA provided them to help lunar mission planners preserve and protect historic lunar artifacts and potential science opportunities for future missions.
1987: The founding of the National Park Service in 1916 encouraged Americans to experience their country’s natural wonders firsthand. Over the next seventy years, increased awareness of environmental issues and rapid growth in tourism lead the Bureau of Land Management to follow the lead of organizations like the Sierra Club and release an official pamphlet encouraging travelers to enjoy the great outdoors with respect:
More and more people are taking to trails to discover America. On foot or horseback, on mountain bikes or with a llama, there are vast expanses to be explored in National Forests, National Parks, and on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. This trend is not without some problems. Many popular areas are already overcrowded with evidence of people, horses, tents, and campfires everywhere.
Back-country areas are places to seek solitude and a “wilderness experience” away from crowds, noise, and daily pressures of urban life. This escape should be accompanied by a commitment to protect and preserve these areas. Leave No Trace! practices are techniques that visitors can use to help reduce evidence of their presence in the back country. By following the NO TRACE land ethics, visitors can enjoy back country and Wilderness areas Congressionally designated under the Wilderness Act of 1964, while preserving the beauty and solitude.
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