Who Actually Owns Space?

Space is a vast and open area that has just as much to explore as Earth’s oceans. With an entire novel landscape outside of Earth, there are much more resources to uncover and use. Endless possibilities could stem from the usage of space’s natural resources. This leads to the concept of space archaeology, defined “…as the study of “the material culture relevant to space exploration that is found on Earth and in outer space (i.e. exoatmospheric material) and that is clearly the result of human behavior,” (Walsh and Gorman 2021). General archaeology focuses on the past, and constantly questions who owns the past. However, with space archaeology, technically no one owns the entirety of space. Many countries, such as the USA, have just implanted their own morals and desires into the concept of space. For monetary gain, business enterprises, or for the accumulation of resources, numerous countries that partake in the race to space are always in effect. 

Space’s vastness inherently gives no ownership to any one person or country. Because much of space is unexplored, it cannot technically be claimed. However, countries and their people still insist space is for themselves alone. “It said, on the background of stars and stripes, ‘The Moon is ours. Don’t be landing your stanky rocket on the Moon’,” (Gorman 219). Even in space exploration, discriminations are evident. Though people are still prideful about claiming space, the credit is not given to those that actually contribute to the advancement of space exploration. For example, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, three African-American women who contributed to making pivotal NASA space launch possible, largely go unnoticed due to their gender and skin color.

Figure 1. Katherine Jonson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan

“Our very presence on other celestial bodies, whether in human form or through robot avatars, changes them. They are altered physically and conceptually, becoming part of a human cultural landscape in a new way. We cannot land, sample, build settlements or mines and then whisk away as if nothing happened – our chemical and mechanical traces are now part of the planet, asteroid or moon,” (Gorman 225). Similar to how archaeological sites on Earth are formed by the numerous people who alter them and leave a footprint on them, human presence and effect in space will always be felt. Contributions to space archaeology are not made possible by one particular owner but by the combination of all those who have affected and used space for their benefit. Therefore, not one body or group owns space, but everyone who has affected it. 

Figure 2. A space archaeological site (Stevens 2017)


Gorman, A. (2020). Dr space junk vs the universe: Archaeology and the future. The MIT Press. 

Lem, P., & Rocchio, L. (n.d.). Space archaeology: In the realm of resolution. NASA. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/91071/space-archaeology-in-the-realm-of-resolution 

Walsh, J., & Gorman, A. (2021). A method for space archaeology research: The International Space Station Archaeological Project. Antiquity, 95(383), 1331-1343. doi:10.15184/aqy.2021.114

More readings

Gannon, M. I. (2022, April 1). Space archaeology takes off. Scientific American. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/space-archaeology-takes-off/


Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology Reveals a Case of Destruction and Injustice

Netflix’s most recent release, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, received criticism for its lack of awareness for various social groups and for the affected families who had to relive a horrifying and traumatic experience. This post is not to reiterate Dahmer’s story in a way that wrongfully puts him in the spotlight; instead, the forensic anthropology and the bioarchaeology involved in the investigation will be emphasized to explore an issue that has been rooted in injustice. 

Figure 1. The timeline of Dahmer’s insidious murders which included eight Black males, one Asian male, and one White male. (Jentzen 2017) 

Because Dahmer’s case was largely characterized by extreme means of actions, the need for forensic anthropologists was constituted. Many things were discovered and investigated, and the primary takeaways consisted of detailing Dahmer’s motives and the commonalities between the victims in the case (Jentzen 2017). The work of forensic anthropologists allowed a larger issue, in the spectrum of law enforcement and race, to arise. Through the inhumane evidence that Dahmer left behind, the bioarchaeology of his victims was sought. It was revealed that a majority of his victims were neglected and vulnerable low-income minorities that came as a result of institutional racism in an impoverished Milwaukee location (Barnard 2000).

Figure 2. Jeffery Dahmer’s victim remains are carried away by toxicologists. 

The remains of Dahmer’s victims indicated that they were a part of social groups that were heavily looked down upon during that time; unfortunately, that is still the case today. One of Dahmer’s victims notoriously included 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone. Konerak managed to escape Dahmer’s apartment with obvious scathe, which a few neighbors of color noticed and called law enforcement. However, the police ignored the distress coming from the witnesses and the clear evidence coming in the form of bruises and blood from Konerak. They then returned the boy to Dahmer, who would eventually be murdered and discovered by forensic anthropologists at the time of Dahmer’s arrest (Barnard 2000). 

Other than the severity of Dahmer’s crimes, what also sparked national interest and anger is that the most disadvantaged groups (color and LGBTQ+) were the majority of the victims (Barnard 2000). In addition, the ignorance of the law added to support the fact that racial and social minority groups did not feel heard and supported. Forensic anthropologists and bioarchaeology played a role in making the truth real. It is upsetting to see that in the context of the past, human behavior is supposed to make a stride in being better for tomorrow. Unfortunately, however, the bioarchaeology of disadvantaged minority and social groups is the same as before. 


Barnard, Ian. “The Racialization of Sexuality: The Queer Case of Jeffrey Dahmer.” Thamyris Overcoming Boundaries: Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality 7.1-2 (2000): 67-97. Print. 

Jentzen JM. Micro Disasters: The Case of Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Acad Forensic Pathol. 2017 Sep;7(3):444-452. doi: 10.23907/2017.037. Epub 2017 Sep 1. PMID: 31239993; PMCID: PMC6474573.

Further Reading 

Bagawan, Juanita. Study that claims white police no more likely to shoot minorities draws fire. https://www.science.org/content/article/study-claims-white-police-no-more-likely-shoot-minorities-draws-fire. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022. 

McEvoy, Jemima. Video of Police Ignoring Suspected Kenosha Shooter Sparks Calls of Injustice. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2020/08/26/video-of-police-ignoring-suspected-kenosha-shooter-sparks-calls-of-injustice/?sh=47e116e64f9b. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.