As the recent development in the technologies is making Space travels cheaper and feasible, and we are planning to live on the mars. Now the question arises who will own the real estate in the Space?

Is there any law?

Let’s say someone claims an ownership of land on the moon. And another person also claims the same land. How will the conflict resolve? And Can anyone own land on the moon?

Also, what is outer space?

Layers of Atmosphere

According to Wikipedia
“Outer Space is the expanse that exists beyond Earth and between Celestial bodies”.

At an altitude of 100km lies ‘Karman line’ which is considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and Outer Space.

There have been some treaties on the outer space affairs. Most recent is “The Outer Space Treaty of 1966” including the following principles:
  • the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
  • outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
  • outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
  • States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
  • the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
  • astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
  • States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities;
  • States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
  • States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.

Similar laws are enforced on the Continent of Antarctica; the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 by 12 countries (now 53) has following provisions:

  •   Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only.
  •   Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end shall continue.
  •  Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available.
  • No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica. No new claim or enlargement of an existing claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica shall be asserted while the present Treaty is in force.
  • All areas of Antarctica, including all stations, installations, and equipment within those areas … shall be open at all times to inspection

This treaty system prohibits nuclear explosions and disposal of nuclear wastes.

Antarctica has no permanent population, hence it has no government. Governments that are party to the Antarctic Treaty implements the articles and decisions taken under them.

But the Space Laws doesn’t say anything about private companies. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has project #dearMoon which would be a milestone in the Space tourism.

Companies like Planetary Resources, Inc. is planning to commercialize resources in the space. As their website mentions;

Planetary Resources is embarking on the world’s first commercial deep space exploration program. The purpose is to identify and unlock the critical water resources necessary for human expansion in space.”

Dennis Hope is the person who has sold plots on the moon. His buyers include three former presidents of USA (George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan). He used a loophole in the treaty – it does not apply to individuals.

He has sold more than 1 billion acres of land on the moon. United Nations never responded because the treaty applies to both countries and its citizens.
He even threatened Chinese government when China announced a moon base.
“When China announced they planned to be on the moon by 2012, we wrote a letter to their president saying we didn’t have a problem with it as long as they had a licensing agreement with us. Otherwise, their craft would not reach the moon,” Hope says.

This man is pretty serious about his lands (On the moon).

But let’s take a step further, what if we colonize the mars (we here refers to humanity in general) and there are people living on the mars.

What would be like to live on Mars?

NASA is planning to send humans on the mars by 2030s. And don’t forget SpaceX’s vision to put men on the mars by 2024 and create a base there.

So we can say we are destined to become an interplanetary civilization. But what will be like to live on the mars? I am not talking about gravity, atmosphere or temperatures here. If someone lived on the mars which would be the dawn of an interplanetary civilization, what type of watch would they wear?

Sun Dial on the Curiosity Rover on Mars (Source: NASA)

When Curiosity rover landed on the mars, it carried with him a Sundial, also known as the “Mars dial”, which can be used to determine the position of the Sun in the sky and the season on Mars.

Curiosity’s sundial has following inscription I thought you would find interesting;

“For millennia, Mars has stimulated our imaginations. First, we saw Mars as a wandering star, a bringer of war from the abode of the gods. In recent centuries, the planet’s changing appearance in telescopes caused us to think that Mars had a climate like the Earth’s. Our first space age views revealed only a cratered, Moon-like world, but later missions showed that Mars once had abundant liquid water. Through it all, we have wondered: Has there been life on Mars? To those taking the next steps to find out, we wish a safe journey and the joy of discovery.”

But the question remains how would Martians determine what time it is? As the watches from the Earth will be useless for them.

A day on the mars take 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds. Which makes mars 1.02 times slower than the Earth.

There are these watches designed to function on the Martian time.

They would also find it difficult to keep up with the Gregorian calendar. Thus they have to use a different Calendar specifically for the orbit of Mars around the Sun.

Darian Calendar

What would their flag look like?

Martian flag, by scientist Pascal Lee

One of a strong contender in being a Martian flag is that designed by scientist Pascal Lee in the 1990s which represents terraforming the red planet.

But what if the Martians stopped working on our orders?

 As travel to the Mars is not quick and even at sending messages at light speed takes minutes thus only what we can do is to take over any control we have and let them develop a new civilization there.
Which bring us to a question, what if they decide to wage a war against us Earthlings?

Space Wars

Well, this is most unlikely for it to happen but it is not inevitable.

Steven Freeland who is specialist in space law at Western Sydney University says
“We’ve had humans utilizing space for military purpose and the whole range of other amazing things for 60 years – and we haven’t had warfare in space.”

“We’ve got treaty law that makes it clear space is to be utilized for the peaceful purpose.”

We need to update Space treaties to prevent any conflicts and situations of wars in the space.

As we have maintained and trying to maintain peace with neighboring countries, we will have to maintain peace among our planetary neighbors.

And we can also hope that anyone would be wise enough to not waste resources in the wars while we can always use peaceful exploration and advancement of technologies for our benefits.

VSauce on YouTube has covered this topic in details. Click here to check it.

What do you think? tell us in the comments. 

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