Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Moon rocks

I was not aware of this practice.

"NASA Moon Rocks Gifted to States and Provinces"

Lunar Samples on Display in State Museums


Beverly Bright

March 8th, 2010


Fifty U.S. states and provinces each received a piece of lunar rock encased in an acrylic button. Once the public gift was received, it became the property of the recipient and was no longer tracked by NASA. Public gifts usually cannot be legally transferred to individual ownership without the passage of additional legislation. Attempts have been and are being made to locate each of the gifted moon rocks.

Students at the University of Phoenix, Arizona have begun to compile a list of the locations of the moon rocks. Professor Joseph Gutheniz, former NASA Office of Inspector General special agent has challenged his students to locate the missing samples. Just recently, “lost” moon rocks in Hawaii turned up in the Governor’s office cabinet during a routine inventory of gifts given to the Governor.
Known Locations of Moon Rocks

Of the 50 States and the provinces given samples, the following have confirmed the location of their gift.

* Alaska – Alaska State Museum, Juneau
* Delaware – In storage in the state’s archives, Delaware Museum Association
* Georgia – Fernbank Science Center, Atlanta
* Hawaii – Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu
* Idaho – Idaho State Historical Society, Boise
* Illinois – Illinois State Museum, Springfield
* Indiana – Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis (in storage)
* Iowa – State Historical Museum, Des Moines
* Maine – Maine State Museum, Augusta
* Massachusetts – Museum of Science, Boston
* Michigan – Michigan Historical Museum, Lansing
* Minnesota – Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
* Mississippi – Dept. of Archives and History, Jackson (in storage)
* Montana – Montana Historical Society, Helena
* Nevada – Nevada State Museum, Carson City (in storage)
* New York – New York State Museum, Albany (in storage)
* North Dakota – State Historical Society, Bismarck (in storage)
* Oklahoma – Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma City
* Pennsylvania – State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
* Tennessee – Pink Palace Museum Sharpe Planetarium, Memphis
* Texas – Texas State Capitol Building, Austin
* Utah – Utah Museum of Natural History, Salt Lake City
* Vermont – Vermont Historical Society, Barre
* Virginia – Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond
* Washington – Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma
* Wisconsin – Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum, Sparta
* Wyoming – Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne

Legal Ownership of Moon Samples

It is illegal for a private citizen to possess a moon rock, unless purchased from someone having been “gifted” a sample. Walter Cronkite was one of 40 recipients of a moon rock sample around the nation. He presented his lunar sample to the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, which houses the Walter Cronkite papers, and it is displayed in the center’s exhibit gallery.

There is an active black market for moon rocks. Rock fragments and lunar dust are sold for large sums of money in an underground market. Antiques Road Show once noted that moon dust on tape was sold on Christie’s for $300,000. An article by Antiques Roadshow has excellent examples and tips for collecting moon samples and “space junk”. Many samples for sale are not genuine. Buyers beware.

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