Moon Dust

A SPECK of dust smaller than a grain of rice doesn’t raise much interest – unless it’s from the moon.

That’s what a 74-year-old California widow found out when she tried to sell authenticated moon dust to help her sick son, according to some sources, while another reports it was to help the sick son and to provide an inheritance for her three children.

She doesn’t face charges, but such a sale is illegal. Such material from lunar missions is considered to be government property so can’t be sold for profit.

And this isn’t the first time that lunar materials have come up for sale but the auction houses didn’t follow through with the sales.

YET, what about the hundreds of lunar samples that NASA gave to nations, states and high-profile individuals with the understanding that they remain government property?

One would think that it would be very difficult to get those samples returned, especially since a recent count has shown that 10 states and more than 90 countries can’t account for their shares of the gray rocks.

Joseph Gutheinz, a University of Phoenix instructor and a former NASA investigator, devoted years to tracking down missing moon rocks. He was quoted as noting that NASA doesn’t always take good care of lunar materials. At times, space suits were hosed off with the clinging moon dust lost forever.

NASA gave moon rocks to each state in the 1970s. One governor admitted the rock was in his personal collection, but he agreed to return it to the state. Still others have been found in materials stored from a governor’s office, particularly if he loses an election.

The taxpayers’ money went for those space missions, and it doesn’t seem right that the lunar samples were given to the nations, states and individuals. The samples belong to the people of this country.

Research is fine, and the samples should have been kept for future study.

After all, the United States isn’t planning any trips to the moon anytime soon.