Re-thinking the archaeology of Mars
I’ve been rummaging through the depths of my hard-drive and found a few things I’d forgotten about. Here’s one of them, from 2006 I see, a presentation on the contemporary archaeology of Mars.
The reason I’ve pulled it up is I might want to go back and think this over again. I’m not happy with it, which is why it was left on the drive, but it might have potential.
The slide on the 1980s probes is intentionally blank, because there were hardly any probes sent in the 1980s to Mars. The reason is that the competition between the major powers has moved to Earth Orbit, with the USA building the Shuttle and the USSR building long-term space stations. Recent events have highlighted a couple of reasons why it’s worth looking at this again. One is the registration of lunar heritage by California, which is grabbing headlines for something that Alice Gorman and Beth O’Leary have been saying for a while. The other is Obama’s cancellation of the return to the Moon.
It could be a scientific re-prioritisation, but like the Mars gap in the 1980s, it could also be due to politics. The Nobel laureate already has wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to manage, and he wants to keep his options open for a war with Iran. That could turn very nasty as Iran is next door to his two other problems. It’s possible that there simply isn’t a threat on the Moon, but there is in the Middle East. Unless China develops lunar ambitions, the discovery of water on the Moon could be a scientific curiosity rather than a stepping stone to colonisation.
There’s a few reasons why I don’t like this presentation as it stands. I think the biggest problem is that one of the big factors for making it was that I needed a presentation. It wasn’t an idea that was ready, and to some extent the problem was “there’s something archaeology could say about this, but what?” Now I’m thinking about the social, political and economic effects of Mars exploration. This time around I see archaeology as a tool to finding out about these factors, rather than ‘being archaeological’ as the purpose of project.