Moon Rocks Expected To Fetch Up To $1 Million In Auction

Tiny moon rocks collected by a Soviet lander are going up for auction November 29.                  Sotheby's

This sample of lunar rocks were returned to Earth by the Russian Luna-16 unmanned mission, which makes them the first time a piece of another world had ever been offered for sale to the public and the only known legal sale of moon rocks ever to have occurred.

The centerpiece of Sotheby's upcoming auction in NY will be something from out of this world: soil samples from the moon. Now they're up for sale again by a private American collector.

Samples of the moon collected by the Soviet Union and the United States have typically remained in the government's possession, and laws prevent public gifts - like the moon samples gifted to other countries by the Nixon administration - from being transferred to individuals.

Launched on 12 September 1970, Luna 16 was the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return samples of lunar soil to Earth.

The incredible rarity of dust and rocks collected from the lunar surface means that when genuine samples appear for sale, they achieve huge sums at auction.

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The three lunar rocks were presented as a gift by the Soviet government to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, whose late husband Sergei Korolev was the Chief Designer of the Soviet space program.

2019 will mark the 50th anniversary that of the Apollo 11 mission when US astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, became the first men to walk on the Moon.

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. The price this time around is expected to to be significantly higher, possibly approaching or surpassing the $1 million mark.

After perforating the surface for seven minutes, the drill reached a stop at 35 centimetres depth and withdrew the soil sample. He died unexpectedly before the samples could be gifted to him. The samples are encased under glass below an adjustable lens and is labeled in Russian language reading "Soil Particles from Luna-16" when translated. Similar samples have been dated as being as much as 3.4 billion years old.


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