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      Dude, where's my moon rock?

      This undated handout photo provided by NASA shows a six-inch lunar sample disk containing three rock pieces and three clumps of lunar dirt. / Source: AP/NASA
      Astronauts may have had the 'right stuff' to go to the moon, but when it comes to keeping track of what they brought back, NASA seems to have misplaced some of that stuff.

      In a report issued by the agency's Inspector General on Thursday, NASA concedes that more than 500 pieces of moon rocks, meteorites, comet chunks and other space material were stolen or have been missing since 1970. That includes 218 moon samples that were stolen and later returned and about two dozen moon rocks and chunks of lunar soil that were reported lost last year.

      NASA, which has loaned more than 26,000 samples, needs to keep better track of what's sent to researchers and museums, the report said. The lack of sufficient controls "increases the risk that these unique resources may be lost," the report concluded.

      NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage said the agency will continue to loan out material to scientists and for educational display, but will adopt the specific recommendations the inspector general made to improve its tracking.

      "NASA does not consider these national treasure assets to be at high risk," Cabbage said.

      The Associated Press contributed to this report.