Woman Sues NASA to Keep Its Hands Off Her Precious Vial of Neil Armstrong Moon Dust
The question of who owns the moon is at the center of a new lawsuit filed against NASA by a woman who wants to keep a vial of lunar dust gifted to her by astronaut Neil Armstrong.
The woman, Laura Murray Cicco, filed a lawsuit against the space agency last week preemptivelyâ"NASA hasnât come for her vial, but the agency has tried to seize lunar mementos in the past. Ciccoâs mother âgave her a glass vial with a rubber stopper full of light grey dustâ when she was 10-years-old, according to the court document, but reportedly hadnât seen it âfor decadesâ until five years ago when she was going through her late parentsâ belongings.
Armstrong was allegedly friends with Ciccoâs father, late U.S. Army Air Corps pilot Tom Murray. Both men were reportedly members of Quiet Bird men, a secret club for male aviators. Armstrong reportedly gave the vial to Cicco in the â70s, which included a handwritten note on the back of one of her fatherâs business cards. It reads: âTo Laura Ann Murray â" Best of luck â" Neil Armstrong Apollo 11.â
The authenticity of the note and the moon dust have both been tested by experts. A handwriting expert authenticated Armstrongâs note, according to Ciccoâs attorney, Christopher McHugh. The latter isnât as firmly substantiatedâ"one expert found that the moon dust in Ciccoâs vial âmay have originatedâ from the lunar surface, according to court documents, the Washington Post reported, while another test found the composition of the moon dust sample to be similar to the âaverage crust of Earth.â But the inconclusive finding doesnât necessarily discount the potential authenticity of Ciccoâs moon dust. The expert wrote in his repo rt that Earth dust could have potentially mixed with the moon dust sample, according to the court document. âAt this point, it would be difficult to rule out lunar origin,â the expert wrote.
âLaura was rightfully given this stuff by Neil Armstrong, so itâs hers and we just want to establish that legally,â McHugh told the Post.
While a proactive lawsuit against the agency might appear slightly paranoid for a small vial of alleged moon dust, itâs not. âLunar samples are the property of the United States Government, and it is NASAâs policy that lunar sample materials will be used only for authorized purposes,â NASA wrote in its Lunar Allocations Handbook. âIt is therefore essential that rigorous accountability and security procedures be followed by all persons who have access to lunar materials.â
In fact, scientists researching the dangers of moon dust werenât even able togain access to the real stuff in their experimen ts, instead using simulated lunar dust for a study they published last month. Bruce Demple, a professor at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine who authored the study, told Gizmodo that he hopes their findingsâ"that simulated moon dust presents health risksâ"will convince NASA to give them real moon dust from the Apollo missions.
As for Cicco, her lawsuit is ongoing, and her vial of moon dust is being held in a safe location, according to the Post. McHugh told Gizmodo in an email that he hasnât yet heard from NASA, âbut they were just served, so I wouldnât expect to hear from them for a little while.â He added that they have 60 days from service to issue a response.
We have reached out to NASA to comment on the lawsuit and whether the agency will attempt to seize Ciccoâs lunar mementos.Source: Google News US Science | Netizen 24 United States