NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

NMSU professor emerita launches new book on space heritage

New Mexico State University anthropology professor emerita Beth O?Leary will travel to Johns Hopkins University on Friday, Nov. 7 to launch a book she co-edited, ?Archaeology and Heritage of the Human Movement into Space.?

Head and shoulders of woman
Beth O?Leary, NMSU anthropology professor emerita, is launching her second book on space heritage and archaeology at a special event at Johns Hopkins University. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

O?Leary, who retired from NMSU in July, has become a nationally recognized expert in the emerging field of space heritage and archaeology.

The book edited by O?Leary and P.J. Capoletti, historical archaeologist and professor of anthropology at Penn State University, represents the foremost scholars in the field of space archaeology and heritage. O?Leary will join a panel of experts to discuss the book at the event at Johns Hopkins? Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

O?Leary, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, has spent the last 14 years advocating that the Apollo 11 moon landing site at Tranquility Base be recognized as a National Historic Landmark. O?Leary and others have continued a push to protect all cultural heritage sites related to space exploration, particularly the Apollo lunar landing sites.

?There are many other archaeological sites equally worthy of preservation, notably Luna 2 (USSR), the first spacecraft to crash onto the moon in 1959,? said O?Leary. ?But preservation efforts in the U.S. have been focused on Tranquility Base.?

O?Leary was among a team of experts who developed NASA guidelines issued in 2011 to help protect artifacts on the lunar surface, with special instructions for the Apollo 11 and 17 landing sites. However, according to international treaty, no one owns the surface of the moon so the guidelines are not binding.

After national recognition, the next step for O?Leary and other advocates is to urge that these lunar landing sites be added to the World Heritage List.

?China had its first moon landing last December, which is an historic event in itself,? O?Leary said. ?They launched another moon mission this month and have plans for another moon landing next year.

?As commercial space tourism moves closer to reality, the danger that artifacts from those first moon landings could be impacted becomes more likely. We need to act now.?

More about ?Archaeology and Heritage of the Human Movement into Space? can be found on Springer Publishing at http://bit.ly/1wGaLIn or on Amazon.com.

O?Leary?s next book ?In the Shadows of Saturn V: Apollo?s Hidden History? for University Press of Florida is due to be completed in 2015.