Feeds

NASA slammed for losing hundreds of moon rocks

Chaos at space agency's lunar lump lending library

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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?