Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A 73-old grandmother, who was the target of a sting operation conducted by NASA agents to recover a piece of moon rock, says rough handling by officials during the ordeal left her bruised and badly shaken.According to the AP, Joann Davis was trying to raise money for her sick son by selling a moon rock that had been given to her late husband by Neil Armstrong in the 1970s.
It’s illegal to trade lunar material on the open market because it’s considered federal property.
The AP explains:
The strange case centres on a speck of authenticated moon rock encased in an acrylic-looking dome that appears to be a paperweight. For years, NASA has gone after anyone selling lunar material gathered on the Apollo missions because it is considered government property, so cannot be sold for profit.
Still, NASA has given hundreds of lunar samples to nations, states and high-profile individuals but only on the understanding they remain government property. NASA’s inspector general works to arrest anyone trying to sell them.
Davis may have inadvertently outed herself by contacting a NASA contractor in May to try and find a buyer for the rock.
When investigators met Davis at a Denny’s in South California to collect the material, agents “grabbed and pulled” the elderly woman into a parking lot where they questioned and detained her for two hours.
“This (is) abhorrent behaviour by the federal government to steal something from a retiree that was given to her,” said Davis’s attorney, Peter Schlueter.
Five months later, no charges have been filed by either party.
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