"No person has permission to keep them."
Moon dust that was digested and recovered from cockroach carcasses probably isn't going to a new home, after all.
Back in May, news broke that a private collector was selling a small amount of lunar dirt left from the Apollo 11 mission that astronauts brought back in 1969. In a series of experiments involving fish and other animals, the private collector got their hands on dirt that had been fed to the roaches for science.
Now, the Associated Press says NASA asked the collector to call off the sale at RR Auction and return what the space agency says is federal property. On Thursday, the wire service reported that NASA had sent multiple letters to the auction compnay.
"All Apollo samples, as stipulated in this collection of items, belong to NASA and no person, university, or other entity has ever been given permission to keep them after analysis, destruction, or other use for any purpose, especially for sale or individual display," AP says NASA's June 15 letter stated.
Pie in the Sky
It isn't the first time RR Auction has been asked to call off a sale because of a dispute over federal property.
"NASA has a track record of pursuing items related to the early space programs," RR attorney Mark Zaid told AP. "We have worked with NASA before and have always cooperated with the US government when they lay claims to items. At the end of the day, we want to act appropriately and lawfully.”
The auction is, for now, halted.
The decision is ultimately between NASA and the private individual, but let's hope whatever happens is equally agreeable for both parties.
More on planetary speculations: Physicist Says There's a Small Chance You'll Wake Up on Mars Tomorrow Due to Quantum Physics