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Stolen Lunar Dust Recovered.


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Hi Guys-

Saw this on the local news. I think there's been some posts here about recovering all the lunar material that has been missing over the years.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/article_03303ac6-9dba-11e0-aade-0019bb30f31a.html?oCampaign=email

A one inch piece of tape with lunar dust on it. And how would you authenticate dust- whether lunar or terrestrial? How do you put a price on something like that if it is authentic?- Seriously..

Steve

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I worked for NASA for years in Las Cruces, New Mexico. One of my projects was building the repository for all the lunar materials that were not on loan to education or scientific research. The scientists told me that quite a bit of this material had gone missing over the years due to a lot of mishandling. They were trying to collect it all and get it in one environmentally controlled vault.

The stuff is priceless. It is worth whatever price NASA wants to put on it. How much is a little dust on some tape worth? Who knows? But I do know that a rock the size of the end of your little finger is guarded 100% of the time while it is being displayed. And most samples are encased in Lexan and attached with a cable to the display table in a public setting.

It looks just like grey basalt. A really boring plain jane volcanic that could be found anywhere. Like so many other things it is not the dirt that is so special but the journey and the story behind it.

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The auction house put an estimated value of $1000-$1500 on the piece of tape. While I have no doubt it's authentic, how do they check a piece of dust to see whether or not it's lunar material?

Steve

What an absolute waste of TaxPayer money!

Jim

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What an absolute waste of TaxPayer money!

Jim

I dont believe that the auction house intends for anyone to bid on it using taxpayer money. That is simply the estimated value if someone were to bid on it. Despite the high estimated value, science and education gets to use this material at no cost.

So it is valued so high simply because it is an illicit material. It has everything to do with how much a collector may be willing to pay and NOTHING to do with NASA trying to set a falsely inflated price.

Remember after the shuttle broke up over Texas? A simple C/C tile was going for $1000 on ebay. But did that reflect their actual worth?

Since any moon rocks or shuttle parts are illegal to privately own then a few collectors will pay a fortune for them. It does not reflect the taxpayers investment, any attempt to inflate collectables prices or any of that. It simply reflects how much a collector will lay down for a piece of what the taxpayers have already paid for.

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I dont believe that the auction house intends for anyone to bid on it using taxpayer money. That is simply the estimated value if someone were to bid on it. Despite the high estimated value, science and education gets to use this material at no cost.

So it is valued so high simply because it is an illicit material. It has everything to do with how much a collector may be willing to pay and NOTHING to do with NASA trying to set a falsely inflated price.

Remember after the shuttle broke up over Texas? A simple C/C tile was going for $1000 on ebay. But did that reflect their actual worth?

Since any moon rocks or shuttle parts are illegal to privately own then a few collectors will pay a fortune for them. It does not reflect the taxpayers investment, any attempt to inflate collectables prices or any of that. It simply reflects how much a collector will lay down for a piece of what the taxpayers have already paid for.

Hi Bob!

I am talking about the case, the investigation, etc.

Please show me the law that states it is illegal to privately own a moon rock. I can not find it in the CFR's. I searched lunar and moon and just nothing there.

Jim

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Hi Bob!

I am talking about the case, the investigation, etc.

Please show me the law that states it is illegal to privately own a moon rock. I can not find it in the CFR's. I searched lunar and moon and just nothing there.

Jim

I believe that you need to look under "theft" and not "moon" or "lunar".

There is no law that says you cant own a moon rock. But there is a law that says you cant posess (and market)something that belongs to someone else without permission.

Just like you cant legally posess a meteorite that I have found without permission, neither can you posess lunar material without the permission of NASA. It is kind of like stealing road signs. Even though your tax money paid for the lunar dust, you just cant take it and keep it without permission. If I was selling a meteorite on ebay that you had found without your permission I would bet that you would expect the law to intervene. NASA feels the same about moon material they have recovered. And the State Highway Department feels the same about road signs being sold on ebay.

I didnt know there was a "case" nor an "investigation" and I certainly dont know the budget of any investigation, but I am glad that when obviously stolen material makes it into a public auction that people are doing their job. I am not sure that the government can do anythting efficiently or without a huge waste that is certain. But in my opinion prosecuting crimes is an important role of our government.

Just think if they did not protect that material. Anyone with access to it woud be taking it out the door and if they refused to prosecute people when they tried to sell it then it would be rather lame. It was obviously entrusted to some school or the scientific community via the space program and someone pilfered it. While on one hand it is just dust, on the other it was a rare and valuable commodity that the US space program went all the way to the moon to collect. When someone tries to sell it for big bucks they are doing nothing except profiting from the taxpayer dollar in my opinion. They obviously stole it and are trying to sell it at auction. And they obviously did not go to the moon to get it. So there is a crime there somewhere wouldn't you agree?

I believe this article lays it peretty bare. Not much arguing about what belongs to NASA is a national treasure.

http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/space/20110624/sc_space/missingmoondustturnsupatstlouisauction

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There are thousands of pounds of "national treasure" spread cross the Columbia's breakup trajectory. I have recovered several truckloads of it so far in an official capacity. A lot of folks have some of that "National Treasure" stashed in their closets hoping to one day sell them for big bucks. The buyers are certainly out there.

Where moon rocks are concerned I understand why they want to control it so bad. But where wreckage and C/C tiles are concerned I think that the finder should own it. Just like meteorites that fell from the sky this type of stuff should belong to the owner of the property it fell on after a reasonable amount of time has gone by after the wreck.

I have asked several times here if there was anyone hunting for Columbia wreckage and no one seems interested. I find it hard to believe that a bunch of guys looking for space rocks would not flock to the largest and most valuable strewn field in the U.S. Since the fall areas and the recovery patterns were so well documented it seems that there would be more treasure hunters interested in this stuff even if they could not market the items.

So far I have only met three other fellows who are on that path and none of them are "treasure hunters" or "meteorite men" per say. It is remarkable because shuttle junk was being offered on ebay before the main wreckage was located.

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Another national treasure found.

http://www.reuters.c...30?feedType=RSS

Steve

Any news on how this is going???

Jim

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