When you suddenly have a piece of outer space in your hands, the temptation to slip it into your pocket or purse is just a little too great.
Such is the impression given by a report published yesterday by NASA. It was entitled: Where The Blazes Has All Our Moon Rock Gone?
Well, it wasn't quite that specific. But such was the gist.
The Associated Press pilfered the news that NASA's Inspector General is quite concerned that so much outer space material is out of its hands.
There are apparently around 500 pieces of moon rock and bits of comets and meteorites that haven't been accounted for since 1970. Which seems like a long time to be without your rightful, other-worldly property.
It seems that NASA sends out quite a few samples to researchers and museums, after which either absent-minded professordom or perhaps hard-minded thiefdom leads to the samples disappearing without even a trace of dust.
There was, allegedly, more than one case of: "But we sent it back last Tuesday." You'd think perhaps that FedEx or UPS might have a record of the sending. But perhaps the samples are merely sent back by means of George the local taxi driver, or Clarissa the local packhorse breeder.
The occasional researcher just doesn't get around to sending stuff back. One had reportedly been in possession of 9 bits of the moon for 35 years.
New systems will now be put in place so that NASA can better track the fruits of its generosity.
As they say on the Planet Kvarm: "You just can't trust those humans, you know."