Five tubes with a tiny amount of moon dust were traded at an American auction for half a million dollars, about 450 thousand euros. It was unique that lunar grains got hammered: It is NASA policy to never sell lunar materials. The fact that it was possible this time was due to a mistake made by the space agency.
The dust comes from the first scoops of lunar soil that Neil Armstrong collected during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Minutes after landing on the moon, he collected emergency sampleso the astronauts could take at least some of the material with them if the mission had to be aborted quickly.
On this Apollo mission, 21.6 kilograms of material was eventually collected, including the emergency sample of just under 500 grams. All of this material is carefully maintained by NASA for research. However, NASA sold the bag in which the sample was collected in the 1970s.
It wasn’t until 2015 when a buyer who paid just under a thousand dollars for a sample bag realized what she was getting. She asked NASA to confirm her suspicions. The researchers have already extracted some dilute moon dust from the layers of the bag.
Then NASA sued the owner to get the materials back: even the smallest lunar dust should have remained in government hands as a national heritage. The judge ultimately ruled in favor of the buyer.
The owner sold the vacuum bag in 2017 for $1.8 million. moon dust itself It was sold at public auction yesterday: Auction house Bonhams assumed its value ranged between $800,000 and $1.2 million.
This amount was not finally reached: after seven bids, half a million dollars was paid on the monster to an unknown buyer.
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