• The aim of space archaeology is to understand the interaction of technology and human behaviour in off-Earth environments. This paper presents the methodology and results of the first archaeological study focused on human habitation in outer space. The International Space Station (ISS) is the only extant, continuously-occupied location in space, with more than 20 years so far. The International Space Station Archaeological Project (ISSAP) aims to extend the purview of archaeology, and provide critical insights about humanity as it moves into the wider solar system.

    So far there have been no substantive analyses of data collected from space sites. The principal obstacle to carrying out an archaeological study of a site in space, whether in low Earth orbit or on the surface of another planetary body, is the multi-million-dollar price tag of fieldwork. We have developed a new methodology to allow analysis of sociocultural aspects of life on ISS. These methods are re-imaginings of traditional archaeological practice. The research program includes the following components:
    1. Image analysis: using machine learning to catalogue associations between crew members, spaces within the station, and objects/tools.
    2. Development of procedures for ISS crew to perform archaeological surveys on-site.
    3. Investigation of ISS cargo return (“de-integration”) activity, and analysis of the values and meanings associated with returned items.