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NMSU anthropology professor Beth O'Leary (photo by Darren Phillips)

NMSU Professor Promotes Preserving Moon Landing Sites

Beth O’Leary, professor emerita in New Mexico State University’s Department of Anthropology will travel to Washington, D.C., to give a presentation on space archaeology and heritage preservation.

Dr. O’Leary will give the presentation to the National Geographic Society on July 18. On July 19 the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will host a book launch and signing for O’Leary’s new book, “The Final Mission: Preserving NASA’s Apollo Sites.” These events coincide with the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

O’Leary wrote the book with Milford Wayne Donaldson, chairman of the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Lisa Westwood, a lecturer in California State University – Chico’s Anthropology Department. It was published in April 2017.

The book looks at the exploration of space from an archaeological and historical-preservation perspective. It details how various sites in New Mexico, Texas, California, and Florida—many of which face destruction—contributed to the successful Apollo mission.

The authors examine current preservation efforts and challenges that lie ahead.

“The Apollo astronauts knew they were taking a giant leap for mankind,” O’Leary said. “But they probably did not realize they were creating a lunar legacy that needs to be preserved for future generations.”

O’Leary retired from NMSU in 2014 and is considered an expert in space archaeology and heritage preservation. In 2012 she received an award from NASA for her work in writing “NASA’s Recommendations to Space Fairing Entities: How to Protect and Preserve the Scientific and Historic Value of U.S. Government Lunar Artifacts,” a proposal of guidelines for future moon landings.

O’Leary says the Apollo 11 landing site at Tranquility Base, where the first humans stepped foot on the moon, should be named a National Historic landmark and be added to the World Heritage List as having “outstanding universal value.”

O’Leary and Westwood have spent more than a decade advocating Tranquility Base be named a national historic landmark and have been successful in including it in both the California and New Mexico state registers of cultural properties and formal recognition by the State of Hawaii.

More information on O’Leary’s book can be found HERE.

Author: Billy Huntsman – NMSU

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