Feeds

NASA slammed for losing hundreds of moon rocks

Chaos at space agency's lunar lump lending library

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Butter-fingered admin work at NASA HQ has meant that hundreds of moon rocks, meteorites and cosmic dust samples have gone missing since the 1980s.

A 4bn year old meteorite, currently still in NASA's possession, credit NASA

A 4bn year old meteorite, currently still in NASA's possession

Poor back-office work was blamed for the mishaps in a report by NASA's Audit Office that recorded that 516 pieces of NASA's 26000 samples of space material have gone AWOL between 1970 and June 2010.

The actual number of missing moon pieces could be higher as a small audit of some of the samples currently on loan revealed that 19% of the materials were unaccounted for.

Lunar rock sample, credit NASA

Lunar rock and soil sample

In one case a disk containing three samples of lunar soil and three lunar rock materials lent to the Mount Cuba Astronomical Observatory in Delaware in 1978 has disappeared: the Observatory claim it was returned in the 90s, NASA believe it was never given back. Though the loan lapsed in 2008, it took NASA two years to request its return.

In another slip-up a scientist kept a moon rock for 35 years without ever doing any research on it.

Funding constraints meant that the NASA Curation Office hadn't done a full inventory since the 1980s. But simple procedures were also to blame - for example no loan agreements were ever signed for meteorites or cosmic dust samples.

The report recommends introducing detailed safeguarding procedures, loan agreements for all types of astromaterials and proper procedures for tracking and returning samples.

In the meantime, if NASA need a spare rock, there's one kicking about Bill Clinton's filing cabinet. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.