The target [of a sting by NASA to recover a tiny speck of moon dust], Joann Davis, a grandmother who says she was trying to raise money for her sick son, asserts the lunar material was rightfully hers, having been given to her space-engineer husband by Neil Armstrong in the 1970s….
When officers in flak vests took a hold of her, the 4-foot-11 woman said she was so scared she lost control of her bladder and was taken outside to a parking lot, where she was questioned and detained for about two hours.
NASA's official position is that it owns every last lunar artifact, and that even samples that are given away—as hundreds have been my NASA itself—technically remain government property. I get it—since we can't manage to get our sorry butts back to Old Luna, there's a limited supply of the grey stuff. But this story is basically the nerd equivalent of a full-scale SWAT raid to turn up one dried up joint.
And how did the crack investigators at NASA find this errant bit o' moon?:
The case was triggered by Davis herself….She emailed a NASA contractor May 10 trying to find a buyer for the rock, as well as a nickel-sized piece of the heat shield that protected the Apollo 11 space capsule as it returned to earth from the first successful manned mission to the moon in 1969.
"I've been searching the internet for months attempting to find a buyer," Davis wrote. "If you have any thoughts as to how I can proceed with the sale of these two items, please call."
They did call, and made a false offer of $1.7 million for the moon shards, only to snag her (and it) out of a booth in a California family restaurant. No changes have been filed, but the NASA investigators kept the moon bit.
Check out Reason's NASA archive.