611AB.04 Laws of Mars: Legal Rules for Living Off the Earth

Human travel to the Moon and/or Mars is now being planned by NASA, ESA, China, and other government space agencies, and perhaps even sooner by private companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, or the European firm MarsOne.  “A new life awaits you in the off-world colonies – a chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!”  But what will or should be the rules and norms of this new life?  Human settlements on the Moon, Mars, or another off-Earth colony would pose challenges that are not only scientific and engineering, but also social and legal.  Examining the optimal social/legal approaches in advance may help such a colony succeed.  And it may also offer a useful thought experiment for assessing and improving social/legal arrangements on Earth.  For example, who can/should own the property rights to such a “golden land of opportunity” and its resources?  (Is recent US law on space mining in conflict with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty?)  What should the environmental laws be to protect – or intentionally terraform – the other planet?  What should “planetary protection” regulations provide, to avoid harmful microbial contamination of the off-Earth colony, and of the Earth?  What should the laws be for ordinary life off the Earth, including accidents, crimes, marriage, divorce, citizenship, etc. …  And, who should decide on these laws – raising constitutional questions of, e.g., rule by each government that sends settlers, or by each private company that sends them, or by an international agreement, or by the settlers themselves in their new home …  This Readings course will explore these and other questions about the “Laws of Mars.”

Special Notes:

*Year-Long Course

Fall 2019

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Jonathan B. Wiener
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/LAW.611A.04.F19
Email list: LAW.611A.04.F19@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Requirements - Public Interest