Who Owns the Moon? Who Owns Asteroids?

With private companies announcing their intentions to mine the lunar surface and asteroids for precious minerals, legal questions have arisen over how far the concept of ownership can be applied. 

What's the Latest Development?


Since the US-based company Planetary Resources announced its intention to mine asteroids for precious minerals, legal questions have arisen over to what extent the concept of ownership can be applied to space rocks and territory on the moon. "In just under two years, Planetary Resources says it will launch the first of a series of space telescopes into low-Earth orbit in a bid to spot nearby asteroids of a size and mineral composition potentially worth mining." A Las Vegas-based start up called Moon Express also plans to mine the lunar surface for minerals deposited there by meteorites.  

What's the Big Idea?

While the UN's Outer Space Treaty of 1967 states that "the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind," critics say the agreement is impossible to enforce. One legal solution being weighed would make asteroids the equivalent of fish in outer space, allowing companies to harvest them for profit but preventing them from making claims of ownership. "Planetary Resources are in a rather grey zone," says Joanne Wheeler, a UK government adviser on the UN's Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. "This is no legal certainty over whether they can do it or not."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less

Neuroscience confirms your subconscious shapes your reality

Groundbreaking neuroscience confirms what Sigmund Freud first theorized.

Technology & Innovation

Groundbreaking neuroscience confirms what Sigmund Freud first theorized: that what we believe to be the objective reality surrounding us is actually formed by our subconscious. David Eagleman explains:

Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less