(Redirected fromStolen and missing moon rocks)
Sample from NASAs lunar surface collection at Johnson Space Centers vault in Houston, Texas
Of the 270Apollo 11Moon rocks and thethat were given to the nations of the world by the Nixon Administration, approximately 180 are unaccounted for. Many of the Moon rocks that are accounted for have been locked away in storage for decades. The location of the rocks has been tracked by researchers and hobbyists because of their rarity and the difficulty of obtaining more.Moon rockshave been subjects of theft and forgery as well.
In 1998, a unique federal law enforcement undercover operation was created to identify and arrest individuals selling bogus Moon rocks. Thissting operationwas known as Operation Lunar Eclipse. Originally two undercover agents were involved in this sting, Senior Special AgentJoseph GutheinzofNASAs Office of Inspector General(NASA OIG), posing as Tony Coriasso, and Inspector Bob Cregger of theUnited States Postal Inspection Service, posing as John Marta. This sting operation was later expanded to include Agents from theUnited States Customs Service, namely, Special Agent Dwight Weikel and Special Agent Dave Atwood. Agents posted a quarter page advertisement inUSA Todayasking for Moon rocks. The Agents were targeting individuals selling bogus Moon rocks, which con artists sell to the elderly and to space enthusiasts. The sting operation was led by NASA OIG Senior Special Agent Joseph Gutheinz.1For the first time in history the sting operation recovered an Apollo era Moon rock, the Honduras Goodwill Moon Rock. This Moon rock had been given to Honduras by President Nixon, fallen into private hands, and then offered to the Agents for $5 million. In order to recover this Moon rock, the agents had to come up with the $5 million requested by the seller. Billionaire and one-time Presidential CandidateH. Ross Perotwas asked by one of the agents to put up the money, and did so.2
After leaving NASA for a teaching position at theUniversity of Phoenix, in Arizona, Gutheinz challenged hiscriminal justicegraduate students to locate the goodwill Moon rocks.345
He subsequently extended this project to also cover the missing Apollo 11 Moon rocks President Nixon gave to the states and nations of the world in 1969. Hundreds of graduate students have participated in this project from 2002 to the present and while many Moon rocks have been found, others are now known to be missing, stolen, or destroyed. Gutheinz patterned this college project after NASAs earlier Operation Lunar Eclipse, which he had participated in. Beginning in 2002, his graduate students began reporting to him that both theMoon rock (which is actually a collection of lunar dust in a Lucite ball) and Cyprus Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock (a pebble-size Moon rock) were missing. Operation Lunar Eclipse and the Moon Rock Project were the subject of the bookThe Case of the Missing Moon Rocksby Joe Kloc.
The Apollo 11 sample is on display in the NJ State Museum. The experts and politicians in New Jersey, including former GovernorBrendan Byrne, had no idea of where the Apollo 17 sample was, or of the state even receiving it.6
While the Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon rock presented to Cyprus was recovered, the Apollo 11 rock given to the country remains missing.7
In his June 26, 2011 Op/Ed appearing in theCyprus Mailentitled Houston we have a problem: we didnt give Cyprus its moon rock, Joseph Gutheinz revealed that after NASA recovered the Cyprus Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock over a year ago they failed to give the Moon rock to its legal owner, the nation of Cyprus.8
The Apollo 11 rock presented to Ireland was accidentally discarded in a landfill known as theDunsinkLandfill in October 1977 following a fire that consumed the Meridian room library at the DublinDunsink Observatorywhere the rock was displayed. Cleo Luff, a student from the University of Phoenix, obtained this information after her investigation into the moon rocks location for a class she had with Professor Joseph Gutheinz.910The Apollo 17 Goodwill Rock remains with theNational Museum of Ireland.
On May 18, 2004, Maltas Goodwill Moon Rock was stolen from Maltas Museum of Natural History inMdina.11According to an Associated Press story appearing inUSA Todaythere are no surveillance cameras and no custodians at the Museum of Natural History because of insufficient funding. The only attendant is the ticket-seller A Maltese flag displayed next to the rock which the U.S. astronauts had taken up with them was not taken.12Joseph Gutheinz, a retired NASA Office of Inspector General Special Agent who heads up a Moon Rock Project at the University of Phoenix (where he assigns his students the task of hunting down missing Moon rocks), urged the Maltese authorities to grant an amnesty period to the thieves. He advised that only an amateur thief would have taken the Maltese Goodwill Moon Rock and left the plaque and flag behind, as all three together would have been self-authenticating and eliminated the risk of a geologist needing to authenticate the Moon rock.1314
Maltas Goodwill Moon Rock hasnt been recovered and continues to be actively pursued.
University of Phoenix graduate students uncovered evidence that theRomaniaGoodwill Moon Rock may have been auctioned off by the estate of its executed former leader,Nicolae Ceaușescu.15Both Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife,Elena Ceaușescu, were executed by firing squad on December 25, 1989, for the crime of genocide.1617As late as 2009, Romania believed it only received one Moon rock from the Nixon Administration, the Apollo 11 Moon rock, and took issue with those who argued otherwise.18Joseph Gutheinz provided Daniel Ionascu of the Jurnalul information from the U.S. National Archives which showed that the Romanian Goodwill Moon Rock was presented to Romania.19Romanias Apollo 11 Moon Rock is at the National History Museum in Bucharest.
Evidence surfaced that both Spains Apollo 11 Moon Rock and Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock which were given to GeneralFrancisco Francos Administration by the Nixon Administration were missing. Pablo Juregui, the Science Editor ofEl Mundo, a Spanish newspaper, disclosed in a July 20, 2009 story entitled: Francos grandson: My mother lost the lunar rock that was given to my grandfather. that the Spanish Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock had finally been given back to the people of Spain in 2007 by the family of AdmiralLuis Carrero; and Juregui suggested that Spains Apollo 11 Moon Rock, as referenced in the title of the story, was last known to be in Francos familys hands, and is now unaccounted for. Juregui wrote that Luis Carrero Blanco the son of Admiral Carrero Blanco stated As for the stone that Kissinger gave Carrero Blanco, the stone was in possession of the family (first in the home of his widow, and after that of his eldest son ), until in 2007 they decided to donate it to the Naval Museum, where it is on display today, along with a Spanish flag which traveled aboard the Apollo 17 mission to the moon. My son told me that the gift was dedicated to The Spanish people, so it seemed right to donate it, recalls Luis Carrero Blanco. Admiral Carrero Blanco was assassinated while in Office byETA, aBasque separatistorganization recognized as terrorist by Spain, France,20the UK,21the US,22and the European Union.23
As for Spains Apollo 11 Moon Rock the trail is more confused. Juregui relates the following from Francos grandson: The grandson of Franco stressed that neither he nor any other member of his family had been told that there might be some legal or ethical problem regarding the Moon rock. If you are given something and its yours, why shouldnt you sell it? He said. In any case the rock was never sold, but according to Franco, at the moment it is not known where it is. As my mother is a woman with many things in many houses, in a move or redecorating a room, in the end it must have got lost, he explains.242526Students assigned to the Moon Rock Project are currentlywhen?looking for leads to Spains Apollo 11 Moon Rock in Switzerland.27
Elizabeth Riker28was assigned the task of hunting down theAlaskaApollo 11 Moon Rock by her professor. On August 18, 2010, in a story she wrote about her investigation in theCapital City Weeklynewspaper, of Juneau Alaska, she stated that after conducting a thorough investigation for Alaskas Apollo 11 Moon Rock she has concluded that it is missing. She advised that she planned to continue to look for the Moon rock and asked for the help of the citizens of Alaska to accomplish her goal of finding it.2930
In 1973, there was a massive fire at the Alaska Transportation Museum where the Moon rocks were being housed. Coleman Anderson (a crab-fishing captain who was on the TV showDeadliest Catch) claimed to have gone to the museum to scrounge through the garbage from the fire to see if there would be anything worth saving. Anderson, who was a child at the time, claimed to have found the Moon rocks and cleaned them up over the next few years.
To clear title to the rocks he filed a lawsuit against the State of Alaska, asking the Court to deem the rocks his sole property.31
The missing Moon rocks were returned by Anderson as of December 7, 2012.32
In a front-page story, theArkansas Democrat-Gazettelisted numerous sources suggesting the Arkansas Goodwill Moon Rock had gone missing noting that the rock was potentially worth five million dollars. The rock was presented to the state by astronautRichard H. Trulyin 1976 at a Boy Scout event in Little Rock. Its whereabouts remained unknown until September 21, 2011, when it was discovered by Michael Hodge, an archivist with theButler Center for Arkansas Studies, while processing the gubernatorial papers ofBill Clinton.3334
Based on the investigation of a graduate student, former GovernorJohn Vanderhoof, then age 88, acknowledged he had the Goodwill Moon Rock presented to the people of Colorado in his personal possession and agreed to give it back to the state.35On August 25, 2010, the Colorado Goodwill Moon Rock was unveiled at theColorado School of the Mines Museumby Dr. Bruce Geller, the museum curator.3637
Flaws in the State of Hawaii inventory control system were highlighted in 2009 when an estimated $10 million in Moon rocks from Apollo 11 and the Apollo 17 Goodwill Rock could not be located. Curators and officials at every museum and university in the state, along with then GovernorLinda Lingles office, capitol, and state archives, were contacted but none knew of the whereabouts of the items.38Both Moon rocks were later found in a routine inventory of gifts given to the governors office over the years, in a locked cabinet in the Governors Office. A senior advisor to the governor vowed to increase security and register the items with the states Foundation of Cultural Arts.39
Confusion erupted in 2010 when employees with theMissouri State Museumand the Missouri State Department of Natural Resources claimed that Missouris Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock was in storage.40Photos in news stories about the location of the rock were later identified as coming from Apollo 11. Then SenatorKit Bond, who was the Governor of Missouri when the Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock was gifted to the state, stated that he has no recollection of receiving a Moon rock and The Missouri State Archives, and the State Museum, reversing what they had previously stated, have no information on Missouri having the Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock concluding that it was presumed missing.4142The rock was later found amongst Bonds possessions by his staff and it was returned to the state.4344
North Carolinas Goodwill Moon Rock along with other Apollo 17 flown items on temporary display at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences during a special event on the launch ofSTS-133
Main article:North Carolina lunar sample displays
Professor Christopher Brown, Director of the N.C.Space Grantand professor at theUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hillturned the Moon rock over, along with related items, to theNorth Carolina Museum of Natural Scienceswhere it is planned for permanent display in the Fall of 2011 when the museum expansion is completed.45Brown obtained the rock from a colleague in 2003 who found it in a desk drawer at the state Commerce Department. Browns colleague received permission to lend the artifact to Brown who used it in presentations on space and space-related science to students over the next several years.46
Toni Dowdell, a graduate student at the University of Phoenix, was assigned the task of hunting down theOregonApollo 11 Moon Rock while two of her teammates were charged with hunting down the Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rocks of Oregon and Louisiana. Toni Dowdell and her two teammates received this assignment from her professor, a retired Senior Special Agent with NASAs Office of Inspector General. This assignment was part of an ongoing assignment known as the Moon Rock Project, where students are assigned the task of hunting down Moon rocks all over America and the world. In a February 19, 2010 article Toni Dowdell wrote for theDaily NewsofGreenville, Michigan, Dowdell described how her teammates in this investigation discerned that both the Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rocks of Oregon and of Louisiana remain unaccounted for, but how she successfully tracked down her assigned Moon rock, the Oregon Apollo 11 Moon Rock. As with many Moon rock gifts the Nixon Administration gave to the states and the nations of the world the first problem she encountered was a lack of a document trail. However, by reaching out to people, to include an operator in the state Capitol, she found the Moon rock hidden in the ceremonial Governors Office of Oregon.47According to moon rocks researcherRobert Pearlman, the Oregon Apollo 17 rock display is on permanent exhibit in the Earth Science Hall of theOregon Museum of Science and IndustryinPortland.48
Sandra Shelton, a graduate student at the University of Phoenix, was assigned the task of hunting down theWest VirginiaApollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock by her professor, a retired Senior Special Agent with NASAs Office of Inspector General. This moon rock was presented to West Virginia in 1974 and is valued at $5 million. On May 16, 2010, Rick Steelhammer of theGazette-Mailof Charleston, West Virginia wrote a front-page story documenting Sandra Sheltons investigative findings which revealed that the West Virginia Goodwill Moon Rock was missing.49Following that story, retired dentist Robert Conner called Shelton and told her that he had theWest VirginiaGoodwill Moon Rock. Shelton informed her professor, who advised the Governors Office. Dr. Conner said that his deceased brother was the former business partner of former West Virginia GovernorArch A. Moore, Jr., and that Conner acquired the moon rock upon the death of his brother from his brothers belongings.5051In her June 29 story appearing in the Denver Post reporter Sarah Horn wrote that Shelton was awarded a certificate by the Governor of West Virginia,Joe Manchin, for her role in recovering the West Virginia Goodwill Moon Rock.52
In 1972, then 13-year-old Jaymie Matthews, now Astronomy Professor at theUniversity of British Columbia, lied about his age in order to compete in an essay contest, the winner of which would serve as a participant in a 10-day International Youth Science Tour, in which all the countries in the United Nations were invited to offer up youth ambassadors aged 17 to 21. These youth ambassadors were to witness first-hand the launch in Florida… of Apollo 17 Eighty countries accepted the invitation, including Canada. Matthews won the contest, and when his true age came out, Canadian officials decided to let him go anyway. As the student ambassador, it was decided that Canadas Goodwill Moon Rock was mailed to him where he kept it at his home. Eventually he was asked to turn the Moon rock over to Canada, which he did. The rock was reportedly stolen in 1978, while on tour.53
In 2003, University of Phoenix graduate students tracked down the rock to a storage facility at theCanadian Museum of Nature. After 30 years of sitting in storage, the Canadian Goodwill Moon Rock finally went on display at theCanada Science and Technology MuseuminOttawa, on July 23, 2009.54
Moon rocks from Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 presented to the island nation of Cyprus were believed to have been destroyed or stolen in 1974 during theTurkish invasion. In September 2009, while cooperating with a worldwide hunt for Moon rocks withAssociated Pressreporter Toby Sterling (Netherlands Bureau) andCyprus MailreporterLucy Millett, the daughter of the British Ambassador to Cyprus, Gutheinz was advised by his friend and space memorabilia expert Robert Pearlman who had learned in 2003 that the Cyprus Goodwill Moon Rock was never presented to Cyprus, but retained by the son of an American diplomat. The American government was advised about this situation in 2003 and did nothing. Upon learning the truth Gutheinz reached out to both the American Embassy in Cyprus and the Cyprus Government to convey the facts; he then filed a request for a Congressional Inquiry into the case of the missing Cyprus Goodwill Moon Rock. Subsequently, he caused the facts about the Moon rock to be published in the press in order to motivate the person who had the Moon rock to do the right thing, and return it.555657The diplomats son thereafter began negotiating with NASAs Office of Inspector General, and did so for 5 months until the Cyprus Goodwill Moon Rock was recovered. The diplomats sons name has never been disclosed.7
During Lunar Eclipse, Florida businessman Alan H. Rosen, attempted to sell agents the 1.142gram Goodwill Moon rock presented toHondurasfor 5 million dollars. After two months of negotiations with Rosen, the Moon rock was seized from aBank of Americavault. The rock immediately became the subject of a 5-year civil suit,United States of America v. OneLuciteBall containing Lunar Material (one Moon Rock) and One Ten Inch by Fourteen Inch Wooden Plaque, which resulted in the forfeiture of the rock to the Federal Government on March 24, 2003.58The rock was refurbished at Johnson Space Center, to be once again presented to the people of Honduras. In a September 22, 2003 ceremony at NASAs Headquarters in Washington, D.C.,presented the Moon rock to Honduran AmbassadorMario M. Canahuati. Also in attendance at this ceremony was Joseph Gutheinz, the leader of the sting operation, who gave a first hand account of the rocks recovery to Ambassador Canahuati. On February 28, 2004, OKeefe flew to Honduras to formally present the Moon rock to Honduran presidentRicardo Maduro. In 2007, Gutheinz, a past recipient of theNASA Exceptional Service Medal, was featured in theMoon for Saletalking about the Honduras Goodwill Moon Rock and this unique case.596061626364Today the Honduras Goodwill Moon Rock is on display at the Centro Interactivo Chiminike, an education center inTegucigalpathat receives hundreds of young student visitors per day.65
The Irish Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock is located at theNational Museum of Ireland. The Apollo 17 Goodwill Moon Rock was given to Irish PresidentErskine Childerswho later died in office. When the widow of President Childers, Rita Dudley Childers, requested the rock as a keepsake of her late husband, the request was denied, as the Irish Government reasoned the Irish Goodwill Moon Rock belonged to the people of Ireland and not just to one individual.66
AP reporter Ken Ritter wrote that the Nicaragua Apollo 11 Moon Rock given by then-President Richard Nixon to former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Garcia would have been pilfered by a Costa Rican mercenary soldier-turned Contra rebel, traded to a Baptist missionary for unknown items, then sold to a Las Vegas casino mogul who displayed them at his Moon Rock Cafe before squirreling them away in a safety deposit box.6768The Apollo 11 Moon Rock was returned to the people of Nicaragua in November 2012.69
In April 2013, Karen Nelson, anarchivistatLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found 20 vials of Moon dust from the Apollo 11 mission with handwritten labels dated 24 July 1970 in awarehouseat the Berkeley lab. They had been there for around 40 years and were forgotten about.NASArequested it be returned to the agency.7071
On April 23, 2012 at a restaurant in Buffalo, Texas, Moon Rock HunterJoe Gutheinzmet with a 67-year-old former toy manufacturer named Rafael Navarro, who claimed to have an Apollo 11 Moon rock given to him by a maid, now elderly and in failing health, who worked for a Venezuelan diplomat who told people it was a Moon rock. Navarro was offering shavings from the rock for $300,000 oneBay. After looking at the sample through a microscope and later examining documents given him by Navarro, Gutheinz is skeptical of Navarros claim, stating …this is a train wreck waiting to happen for him, and hes inviting it. Hes opening the jail cell door and walking through it.72
In an October 23, 1999 story entitled Atlanta Man Admits Trying to Sell Bogus Moon Rock,Reutersreported two brothers, Ronald and Brian Trochelmann, who were previously charged in 1998 in U.S. District Court in Manhattanfora scheme to sell a phony moon rock for millions of dollars, both plead guilty to wire fraud, a felony, for perpetrating that scheme. The brothers claimed that their father had invented a space-food packaging process that was used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during the Apollo moon missions of the 1960s. The Trochelmanns alleged that the rock had been brought from the moon by Apollo 12 astronautAlan Beanand given toJohn Glenn. They claimed Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth and later a U.S. senator, had given the rock to their father in recognition of his supposed invention. The brothers had negotiated a consignment agreement withPhillips Son & Neale, a Manhattan auction house, to sell the rock in December 1995. However, before the auction took place, the rock was confiscated by FBI agents in December 1995 prior to the scheduled auction.73This story first broke in aNew York TimesArticle written byLawrence Van Gelderon December 2, 1995. At that time NASA expressed the belief that the Moon rock might have been real as it matched the general description of a Moon rock that was stolen in 1970. Eileen Hawley, a spokeswoman for NASA, said of the sample offered through Phillips & Neale: We have a rock that is classified as lost, an Apollo 12 lunar sample of approximately the same weight. With that information, we need to look at thisthat this might be a true lunar sample. Ms. Hawley said a rock sample collected during the Apollo 12 mission had been part of a shipment of registered and certified mail that was stolen while en route to a researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles in 1970. The space agency received a call on Thursday from the Postal Investigative Service in New York, she said, after articles about the impending auction had been published. The service passed along a tip from the retired inspector, who was not identified, about a possible connection between the theft and the rock to be auctioned.74This scheme and schemes like it were the inspiration for the undercover sting operation known as Operation Lunar Eclipse, which resulted in the acquisition of the Honduras Goodwill Moon Rock in December 1998.7576
In his November 4, 1969 article appearing in theFort Scott Tribuneentitled Fake Lunar Rock Racket Feared NEA Staff correspondent Tom Tiede first predicted a market for fake Moon rocks, a market subsequently given extra momentum as Moon rocks began to be reported lost and stolen. Tiede gave a few examples to support his prediction: InMiamiFlorida a housewife had been approached by a door to door salesman dealing in lunar rocks. She bought five dollars worth; InRedwood City, Calif., a woman [published an advertisement] announcing Moon dust for sale. At $1.98 an ounce; In New York, the Harlem Better Business Bureau [was] cautioning consumers against purchasing any kind of obviously fake moon substances.77
In his August 28, 2009 Associated Press story appearing in theBrisbane Times, Toby Sterling recounted how a spokesman for the Dutch National Museum, AmsterdamsRijksmuseum, acknowledged on August 26, 2009, that one of its prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon byApollo 11 US astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood.. The museum acquired the rock after the death of former prime ministerWillem Dreesin 1988. Drees received it as a private gift on October 9, 1969 from then-US ambassadorJ. William Middendorfduring a visit by the three Apollo 11 astronauts, part of their Giant Leap goodwill tour after the first moon landing. The museum acknowledged that though they did vet the Moon rock they failed to double check it.78The museum was under the incorrect belief that this Moon rock was one of the 135 Apollo 11 Moon rocks that were presented to the nations of the world by the Nixon Administration.79Its a nondescript, pretty-much-worthless stone, said Frank Beunk, a geologist involved in the investigation.80The genuine Apollo 11 Moon rock given to the Dutch is in the inventory of a different museum in the Netherlands, which is, in fact, one of the countries where the location of both the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 gift rocks is known.81
In June 2002, 101grams of Moon rocks were stolen from theJohnson Space Centerby interns Thad Roberts and Tiffany Fowler. The pair used knowledge of the security around the rocks gained during their internship to remove a272 kg(600 lb)safe in building 31 North containing the samples.82Roberts is a certified pilot and scuba diver who was an ambitious student pursuing degrees in physics, geology, and anthropology who aspired to be an astronaut.83Fellow interns Shae Saur and Tiffany Fowler, as well as accomplice Gordon McWhorter were also arrested for their roles in the theft and attempted sale of the rocks.84The theft also included a meteorite that may have revealed information about life on Mars.85
Roberts advertised the rocks on a Belgian mineralogy club website which was forwarded to the FBI who, with the help of Belgian amateur rock collector Axel Emmermann, set up a sting. On July 20, 2002, the 33rd anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, a number of FBI agents posed as diners at a chain Italian restaurant on Orlandos International Drive for a pre-arranged meeting with Roberts.86Roberts met and spoke with one of the Special Agents at length. A second Agentposing as the husband of the firstjoined the two, and then two of the three accomplices joined them. The meeting moved to a nearby hotel where dozens of FBI agents arrested Roberts, McWhorter, and Fowler and recovered the missing lunar samples.84Roberts was also charged with stealing dinosaur bones and other fossils from his school, theUniversity of Utah.878889
The theft was the subject of Ben Mezrichs bookSex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History. Axel Emmermann, Gordon McWhorter, NASA Principal Investigator Dr. Everett Gibson and investigating officers of the FBI and NASA Office of the Inspector General were interviewed on camera for aNational Geographic ChannelsExplorerspecial called Million Dollar Moon Rock Heist, first broadcast in the US on March 4, 2012. Testimony given therein is at odds with some of the key claims made in Mezrichs account.
In anAviation Week & Space Technologyarticle published on September 27, 1976 entitled Lunar Sample Damaged by Vandals the author addresses a vandalism and possible theft attempt against a 40gram Apollo 17 Moon rock. The author states that theApollo 17lunar sample on open display at theSmithsonianInstitutionsNational Air and Space Museumwas slightly damagedduring an apparent vandalism attempt. It is possible that theft was the object of the attack on the sample, but both museum andNational Aeronautics and Space Administrationofficials believe vandalism was the primary objective. About two cubic millimeters of the triangular fine-grained basalt were chipped away during the incident that involved a hard blow to the sample with a sharp object. NASA believes no part of the sample was obtained by the vandal. The area around the samples display case was swept immediately after the incident, and the sweeper bag is now at theJohnson Space Center, where it is being sifted in an attempt to obtain the missing material.
The author stated that The 40-gram sample on display is the first touchable moon rock. Museum visitors are able to feel directly the texture of the lunar material, a departure from strict NASA policy that dictates that no individual ever handle lunar samples directly as a guard against contamination.90
In an August 8, 1986 article written byUnited Press Internationalentitled Police Look for Stolen Moon Rocks the author wrote: Memphis police are looking for some moon rocks taken from a NASA van that was stolen. The van was assigned to Louis Marshall of Memphis, who conducts education programs for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The van was stolen from outside his home Tuesday night, driven to a field and set afire, police said Friday. A space suit in the van was left to burn. But thieves took some lunar rock and soil specimens, police said. Marshall said it was hard to put a value on them. Its stuff that belongs to all of us, he said. Im out of business right now, said Marshall. It will take a while to replace the items, he said. NASA officials said that out of 384 kilograms (847lb) of Moon rock retrieved through the years, the sample was not a big loss. I dont know what value it wou