NASA wanted its moon dust and it wanted it bad. So the government agency developed an elaborate NASA sting operation involving heavily armed agents, a Denny’s, and a terrified 73-year-old woman.
The NASA sting operation was carried out five months ago. Agents stormed the Denny’s restaurant to apprehend Joann Davis for trying to sell a moon rock. The CS Monitor reports that the elaborate mission didn’t yield much for NASA. They recovered a speck of lunar dust smaller than a grain of rice and they haven’t filed any charges against Davis.
Why? Well, Davis says that she legally owned the moon rock.
Davis claims that her husband was given the small speck of moon dust by Neil Armstrong in the 1970s. Davis decided to sell the moon dust in order to raise money for her sick son. Davis says that the only incident made her look like a criminal instead of a caring grandmother.
“It’s a very upsetting thing. It’s very detrimental, very humiliating, all of it a lie.”
Still, NASA says that Davis should have known that it was illegal to sell the moon rock.
The CS Monitor reports that NASA has given hundreds of lunar samples away to nations, states, and individuals, under the understanding that the moon samples remain government property and cannot be sold for profit. When Davis tried to sell her moon rock online, NASA authorities swooped in to make the arrest.
Davis was eventually allowed to go home, without the moon rock, and no charges have been filed. Now Davis is planning legal action to get her piece of moon dust back.
Davis’s attorney, Peter Schlueter, said:
“This (is) abhorrent behavior by the federal government to steal something from a retiree that was given to her.”
According to the Daily Mail, the real issue is that NASA, and moon rock recipients, have done a terrible job of keeping track of their space treasures. A recent report concluded that 90 countries and 10 states could not account for the moon rocks they had been given by NASA.
Joseph Gutheinz, a former NASA investigator, said:
“I have a real moral problem with what’s happened here in California. I’ve always taken the position that no one should own an Apollo-era moon rock. They belong to the people. But if we did such a poor job of safeguarding (lunar samples,) I cannot fault that person.”
What do you think? Does the government have the right to take away Davis’ moon rock after she tried to sell it?