Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: A federal law prohibits U.S. citizens from having contact with extraterrestrial beings.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]
Origins: On 16 July 1969, the United States of America (through the efforts of its National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was poised to achieve a milestone in space exploration. That day would see the launch of the
Of course, a key portion of this achievement was to be the safe return to Earth of those very same astronauts, a prospect that raised a number of issues we had not confronted before. Who knew what else might return to Earth with the lunar explorers? Although the moon was presumed to be lifeless, we couldn't rule out the possibility that bringing back equipment and samples from the lunar surface might also introduce hitherto unknown microorganisms or germs into our environment, potentially triggering a scenario like the one described by Michael Crichton's 1969 novel The Andromeda Strain, in which a sample-gathering satellite returns to Earth bearing deadly pathogens from space, touching off a plague that threatens to kill nearly everyone exposed to it.
To prepare for this eventuality, on the same day that
In other words, if you were an astronaut returning from a mission to the surface of the moon (or any other celestial body), the government
The "Extraterrestrial Exposure" law was removed from the CFR in 1991, NASA having determined that it had "served its purpose" and was "no longer in keeping with current policy," and is no longer in force.
Last updated: 18 July 2007
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