NASA has been preemptively sued to protect Neil Armstrong-gifted moon dust

NASA has been preemptively sued to protect Neil Armstrong-gifted moon dust

While a proactive lawsuit against the agency might appear slightly paranoid for a small vial of alleged moon dust, it's not.

However, Joseph Gutheinz, a former senior special agent for Nasa's Inspector General who lead the first undercover mission to return a stolen lunar rock in the late 1990s, disagrees, saying that even if Ms Cicco's vial is authentic, the government may still have a claim to her moon dust.

At this point, Ms Cicco isn't sure what she will do with the vial if she's allowed to keep it, though it may be worth millions.

NASA has not confiscated the vial, but Cicco says she doesn't want the space agency to take it, so she filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to proactively assert her rights.

The dust came in a glass vial, given to Cicco by her mother when she was 10, which originated from Armstrong, who was reportedly a member of the secret society Quiet Birdmen with Cicco's Army pilot father.

It's common knowledge that mankind has caused the dramatic warming of the Earth - nobody besides conspiracy nuts and politicians looking for contributions from energy lobbyists actually bothers to dispute this anymore - but it looks like humans managed to extend our world-warming habits to the moon as well.

The vial of dust that Cicco has, was analysed by scientists who said it was "likely" a sample of the lunar surface.

"Since there is a court case involving this, it would be inappropriate for NASA to comment", a company spokesman told Ars.

Cicco's lawsuit cited another case where NASA seized lunar mementoes from an elderly California woman which was gifted to her by her late husband and an Apollo programme engineer. Another test found the sample's composition similar to "average crust of Earth".

Joann Davis made a decision to sell the paperweights in 2011 after falling on hard times. But a Nasa official suspected that Davis had committed a crime by being in possession of contraband or stolen government property, as The Washington Post's Fred Barbash wrote. On May 9, 2011, Davis and her second husband went to a Denny's restaurant, thinking they were meeting with the broker to finalise the sale.

As for Cicco, her lawsuit is ongoing, and her vial of moon dust is being held in a safe location, according to the Post. The couple sued in 2013, alleging wrongful search and seizure, false imprisonment, wrongful detention and other constitutional violations.

The lawsuit simply asks a federal court in Kansas to declare that she is the rightful owner.

Davis later reached a US$100,000 settlement with the government, according to court records.

McHugh and Cicco then worked on authenticating the moon dust and Armstrong's signature on the back of her father's business card before lodging the complaints. And that's just not true", McHugh said, adding later: "This is not stolen property.

It wasn't until Ms Cicco and her husband Chris tried to get the contents of the vial tested that they realised they might have a problem on their hands.

"It means more for my memory of my father", she says.

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