Dan Vergano writes in USA Today:
NASA hauled back loads of rocks and dust from the moon, but apparently hasn’t kept good track of those samples on Earth. The space agency has lost or misplaced more than 500 pieces of the lunar rocks and other space samples, NASA’s inspector general reported Thursday, making the case for better inventory controls.
Astronauts on the Apollo moon landings from 1969 to 1972 returned 842 pounds of lunar rock and soil to Earth. The space agency now loans samples, along with meteorite and comet dust, to about 377 researchers worldwide.
The space agency now lists 517 moon rock samples as missing or stolen. However, the inspector general audit suggests much more is missing, based on inquiries to a sample of 59 scholars loaned moon rocks, comet dust or meteorites. The audit found 19% could not locate all of their samples.
It isn’t a new problem. NASA Administrator Thomas Paine threatened “waving heavy cudgels” at researchers who lost samples in a 1970 Congressional hearing…
[continues at USA TODAY]