Rare moon rocks set to sell for $1 million at auction

The pieces- a basalt fragment similar to most of the Earth’s volcanic rock and bits of surface debris known as regolith- are being sold by an unidentified private American collector who purchased them in 1993

The pieces- a basalt fragment similar to most of the Earth’s volcanic rock and bits of surface debris known as regolith- are being sold by an unidentified private American collector who purchased them in 1993

They were retrieved by the unmanned Luna-16 Mission in 1970, and were first sold in 1993 by the widow of former Soviet space program director Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. But this is a Soviet sample, and according to Sotheby's, the rock "is the only known, documented lunar sample to have been gifted to a private individual".

The lot is expected to fetch between $700,000 and $1 million during a Sotheby's auction titled Space Exploration, taking place in NY on November 29.

Two handwritten notes penned by Albert Einstein have been sold at auction for a combined $1.8 million.

"These samples are subject to laws governing public gifts, and in most cases, as in the United States, the law does not now allow for public gifts to be transferred to an individual", they added.

It is "extremely rare" for authentic lunar samples to be put up for public sale, Sotheby's said. "As such, this is the only known, documented lunar sample to have been gifted to a private individual".

The rocks, which will headline Sotheby's Space Exploration auction scheduled for November 29, fetched $442,500 when they were first sold in 1993, according to CNN. The U.S. collected lunar soil samples during the Apollo 11-17 missions, while the USSR (succeeded by the Russian Federation) gathered them during the Luna-16, -20, and -24 missions.

This lunar sample return mission came after five unsuccessful attempts by the Soviet Union, and was the third mission of this kind overall, following the Apollo 11 and 12 spacecraft.

They are encased under glass below an adjustable lens and labeled ' -16' [SOIL PARTICLES FROM LUNA-16]'.

The spacecraft consisted of two stages - an ascent stage to propel the sample container back to Earth, and a descent stage to provide course corrections, lunar orbit insertion and the landing manoeuvre.

Tests on similar samples have dated the bits as being as much as 3.4 billion years old.

Notícias recomendadas

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.