Submission Deadline: 15th April 2019

Update: We are delighted to confirm that the opening keynote will be given by Oliver Morton (@Eaterofsun), science writer and editor, author of Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World (2002), Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet (2007), The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World (2016) and The Moon: A History for the Future (2019 forthcoming).

The search for the unknown has long fascinated humans, and the exploration of our corner of space is just one example of this, encapsulated perfectly in the iconic ‘Earthrise’ photo of the Earth as seen from the Moon.  Until Apollo 11 pierced the skies fifty years ago, Earth’s only encounters with its closest companion were restricted by what seemed like an endless distance. Now no longer confined to its corporeal limits, humanity is ever closer to surpassing the stage of mere lunar exploration, advancing to an era of possible ‘colonisation’.

Recent technological advances have led to a rapid increase in space missions. These missions have new aims, beyond the curiosity and engineering ambitions of our early ventures in space. In the 1960s and 1970s, these missions were state-sponsored, nowadays we are witnessing the penetration of commercial and private funding into a new wave of space exploration.

In this new wave of space exploration, missions reach beyond scientific and military interests and are gradually encompassing commercial, cultural and artistic interests. For example, the ‘dearmoonproject’ led by billionaire entrepreneur and art collector Yusaku Maezawa, promises to take artists to the Moon in 2023, to inspire new art and perhaps offer a novel representation of Earth.

Our workshop will provide an opportunity for natural and social scientists to meet and exchange ideas. Here, we will evaluate the implications of humanity’s attempts to make contact with and transform new and unknown space environments, including those of other planets, their satellites, and asteroids.

In this workshop, we would like to open discussions about the future of our exploration of the space closest to Earth, and which questions are raised by our return to the Moon. We invite papers which ask questions about:

  • The ethical, environmental, political, economic, social, cultural implications of private and state-sponsored missions to the Moon and other worlds?
  • Problems posed by future space exploration (e.g. the abundance of artificial human-made debris in Earth orbit already presents a problem for space travel and space tourism)
  • The fundamental philosophical questions about humanity’s place in the universe (eg. what it means to travel to other worlds, the underlying assumptions about human beings that may impact the different ‘imaginaries’ of space travel and use)
  • Given contested views of space exploration and their multiple ‘imaginaries’, how can we prepare and plan new missions in order to minimise unforeseen risks for the future?
  • What principles of accountability, responsibility and precaution might be appropriate?
  • What models exist that could provide inspiration (e.g. Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty)?
  • Who should be involved in preparing, reflecting upon and be considered in such interplanetary futures? Should it be scientists? Military personnel? Or others? (e.g. business entrepreneurs; policy makers; space-faring nations; space agencies; or other renown international organizations (e.g. UN)? Should we extend this network to other beings and entities? (For example: children, ethnic and cultural minorities and non-space faring nations; religious and non religious groups; organic and inorganic matter; artists and other professionals?
  • What would different groups bring to new ways of relating humans with the Moon and other planetary bodies?

We invite contributions from any field, not limited to the questions above, and envisage a small roundtable workshop of about 20-30 people. We plan to begin with a welcome reception and keynote talk on the afternoon/evening of the 23rd and follow on with a series of panels on the 24th, but the precise format will depend on the nature of the submissions we receive. Catering will be provided but participants must meet their own travel and accommodation costs. Contributions from early career researchers are particularly invited and we may be able to provide some modest travel grants to applicants in genuine need. Details of invited keynote speaker(s) will be posted here in due course.

Submissions should be made by email in the form of a title and short abstract (maximum 500 words) outlining the proposed contribution and why it is relevant to the aims of the workshop.

Submission deadline: 15th April 2019

Submissions to/more information: PlanetaryEthics@gmail.com

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