Monday, May 14, 2012

Gutheinz searches for commemorative samples

Piece of rock Rafael Navarro, a former Colombian toy manufacturer, contends came from the moon, photographed in Buffalo, Texas. Navarro has placed rock fragments in the accompanying small plastic box for sale on eBay, seeking $300,000. Joe Gutheinz, a former NASA investigator practicing law outside Houston, is investigating Navarro's claim as he hunts for moon rocks, some missing from the collected retrieved by the twelve American astronauts who walked on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972 [Michael Graczyk / AP]
Michael Graczyk
Associated Press

The dark suit and tie Joe Gutheinz wore set him apart from other customers inside a Texas eatery where the usual attire is jeans and cowboy hats.

An appetite for down-home cooking wasn't what brought the former NASA investigator to the Pitt Grill recently. He was on a quest to identify and maybe recover some of the rarest treasure brought to Earth and then lost: moon rocks.

"We're educating the states and countries of the world about how much they're worth on the black market and we need to increase the security in museums and need to put them back on display," Gutheinz said.

The rock samples were collected by the dozen American astronauts who walked on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1972. U.S. states, territories, the United Nations and foreign governments received them as gifts. The samples, which also were loaned to museums and given to scientists for research, range from dust particles to tiny pebbles.

"A lot of them are in storage. And we need to put them in an inventory control system. And that's what's really lacking," said Gutheinz, a Houston lawyer who also teaches college classes in investigative techniques.

Read the full article HERE.

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