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Space & Astronomy

First ever lunar dust samples go up for auction

By T.K. Randall
April 3, 2022 · Comment icon 2 comments

Armstrong and Aldrin collected samples from the lunar surface in 1969. Image Credit: NASA
Samples of the lunar surface collected during the Apollo 11 mission are going up for sale and NASA is not happy.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon more than 50 years ago, one of the things they did was collect samples of lunar dust and rock to take back with them to Earth for further study.

While the samples that they and the other Apollo mission astronauts collected has since gone on to yield a great deal of important scientific data, NASA met with an unexpected problem - keeping the samples out of the hands of private individuals who might seek to profit from them.

Over the years, the space agency has been involved in numerous lawsuits designed to keep lunar samples from being sold to the highest bidder and for the most part it has been quite successful.
Now though, samples of dust from the Apollo 11 mission will be sold at auction house Bonhams in New York on April 13th despite NASA expressing its discontent at the move.

Estimated to be worth between $800,000 and $1.2 million, the dust had been the subject of legal battles going back decades.

On the plus side, the proceeds will be donated to various scientific charities.

Given that NASA intends to send astronauts back to the Moon in the near future, however, there will no doubt be plenty more opportunities to collect samples of lunar dust for scientists to study.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine | Comments (2)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by and then 2 years ago
Considering the fact that new missions there may soon become relatively routine, I'd say "moon dust" is apt to become common and worth far less in a few years but I guess since it was the first ever collected...
Comment icon #2 Posted by Still Waters 2 years ago
NASA: Give us back our moon dust and cockroaches The space agency has asked Boston-based RR Auction to halt the sale of moon dust collected during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that had subsequently been fed to cockroaches during an experiment to determine if the lunar rock contained any sort of pathogen that posed a threat to terrestrial life. The material, a NASA lawyer said in a letter to the auctioneer, still belongs to the federal government. The material from the experiment, including a vial with about 40 milligrams of moon dust and three cockroach carcasses, was expected to sell for a... [More]

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