Many people heard the following headline and assumed it involved some new sort of drug: "The police took my moon dust. The whole vial of my moon dust." What is this "moon dust"? The fact the term "moon dust" is more likely to be attributed to drug-lingo than to the actual moon says a lot about the times we live in — but that's another story for another day.
Today's story involves one woman's fight to get her (literal) moon dust back. Laura Cicco is suing NASA, who she claims unfairly took her vial of moon dust, a gift she'd been given by astronaut Neil Armstrong himself.
She's even published pictures of the card that he included, which read:
To Laura Ann Murray — Best of Luck — Neil Armstrong Apollo 11.
Cicco's father was friends with Armstrong, and when she received the gift decades ago as a ten-year-old girl, it meant very little to her. She forgot about it, and it wasn't until recently, as she found the vial "wrapped in a paper towel in between her mother's quilts while sifting through her late parents' belongings," that she realized the significance of the chalky powder inside the glass container, according to BBC.
Following her discovery, she wanted to get the dust tested.
"[I tried] a couple universities," Cicco said. "The minute they found out what we thought it was they just said they don't want to mess with it because they don't want to get in trouble."
All lunar material belongs to them, they claim.
Then NASA heard about the matter. All lunar material belongs to them, they claim. In the past, they've seized moon rocks right out of people's hands. They mean business. And apparently for good reason.
According to the BBC:
Theft of lunar material is a real problem — in 2002, three Nasa interns stole samples worth an estimated $21 million from the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Of the 270 lunar samples given as gifts by the US to foreign governments, about 150 are missing and many are presumed to have been sold on the black market.
For Cicco, it's about much more than moon dust and lunar property. It's not about the money, or even the stellar presence of it all.
"It means more for my memory of my father," she said. "When I was a little girl, your father is your superhero. I'm just really excited for him."