Woman Sues to Ensure Ownership of Moon Dust


A woman has sued NASA to make sure that the United States space agency doesn't take back a piece of moon gifted to her by Neil Armstrong - the first person to walk on the lunar surface. Cicco has filed a lawsuit against the space agency to preemptively stop any attempts by NASA to claim the vial is their own property, since NASA does have a history of going after unauthorized lunar samples even if they've never set their sights on this vial just yet.

Laura Murray Cicco was given a glass vial with a rubber stopper filled with gray dust with a note: "To Laura Ann Murray, Best of Luck, Neil Armstrong Apollo 11".

Decades later, Ms Cicco found the vial wrapped in a paper towel in between her mother's quilts while sifting through her late parents' belongings.

Cicco's father Tom Murray, who was a pilot with the US Army, spent a lot of time together with Armstrong. He concluded, using two different methods, that "at this point, it would be hard to rule out lunar origin".

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There's no law preventing people from owning materials of lunar origin, according to Fortune.com. Because of its bleached color, the dust actually provides some reflective properties when it comes to sunlight, and when the Apollo missions disturbed that dust, revealing the darker lunar soil hiding below, it made the moon ever-so-slightly darker overall. "It is therefore essential that rigorous accountability and security procedures be followed by all persons who have access to lunar materials".

The lawsuit claims that test results have authenticated Ms Cicco's vial, although some experts still have questions. She is suing NASA to ensure her ownership of the artifact. NASA has yet to respond as of this posting, but the lawsuit was recently served and, as McHugh told Gizmodo, the space agency has 60 days to respond. "It is not illegal to own or possess".

"I came running where my husband was and I said, 'This is the vial of moon dust".

An expert who tested and analysed the dust found that the sample "may have originated" from the moon's surface, court documents say.

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But three armed federal agents greeted the couple and took them to the parking lot for a two-hour questioning, according to court records.

One of the most contentious cases occurred in 2011, when Joann Davis, the widow of a former Nasa engineer, attempted to sell two Lucite paperweights given to her by her late husband - one containing a rice grain-sized piece of lunar rock, the other with a piece of the Apollo 11 heat shield.

Cicco, who now lives in Tennessee, said she doesn't have the vial in her possession.

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

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