KEEP OFF THE CRATER
Be the first one on your block to bone up on NASA’s Recommendations to Space-Faring Entities: How to Protect and Preserve the Historic and Scientific Value of U.S. Government Lunar Artifacts (go.nasa.gov/JDYo9v), a 93-page illustrated guide to visiting the moon responsibly—especially if you plan to join the 26 teams vying for the Google Lunar X Prize. NASA and the X Prize Foundation announced that the Recommendations will be part of the judging criteria for the $30 million in prizes for privately funded lunar exploration. (First place will go to the first team whose rover lands successfully on the moon, explores it by moving at least one third of a mile and returns high-definition video and imagery to Earth.)
Key provisions. Don’t fly directly over heritage sites: Debris or rocket exhaust could damage artifacts below. On descent, direct your jets so the dust they kick up doesn’t damage old equipment . . .or, indeed, low-orbiting spacecraft you may need to get home. Rovers should stay at least 75 meters away from the Apollo 11 lander, and 225 meters away from the Apollo 17 LEM.
Presumably, the protected artifacts should include Neil Armstrong’s famously abandoned Apollo 11 Hasselblad, though it isn’t explicitly identified on NASA’s extensive list of things we left behind. Maybe that’s because Armstrong wants it back. In a recent interview, the usually taciturn Armstrong noted that, “People love conspiracy theories, they’re very attractive. But they were never a concern to me, because I know someone is going to fly back up there and pick up the camera I left there.” —Douglas McCormick
MISERY LOVES COMPANY
We have to admit feeling a perverse pleasure when manufacturers outside the pharmaceutical and device industries are called on the carpet for making unsupported health claims. In May, the Federal Trade Commission, continuing its clamp-down, took action against soft-drink maker POM Wonderful, Skechers shoes, and even Oreck vacuum cleaners for coloring outside the lines in promoting their products’ health benefits.
Skechers agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges that its ads for Shape-Ups, Resistance Runners, Toners, and Tone-Ups falsely claimed that wearers of the $100-a-pair shoes could lose weight and “get in shape without setting foot in a gym.” “Skechers’ unfounded claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health. The FTC’s message, for Skechers and other national advertisers, is to shape up your substantiation or tone down your claims.”
POM Wonderful came under fire for claiming that its pomegranate juice and dietary supplements could “treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.” An administrative law judge barred the company from making any representation about its products’ health benefits without “complete and reliable scientific evidence.” The order did, however, stop short of requiring POM Wonderful to get FDA pre-approval of health-claim promotion.
Oreck will have to offer partial refunds to consumers who bought the company’s Halo and ProShield Plus vacuums, because the company claimed that the appliances could reduce the risks of influenza and purge the home of “virtually all” germs and allergens. —D.M.