Rare Moon Rocks Expected to Fetch 1M at Auction

first_imgStay on target Moon Glows Brighter Than Sun in NASA Fermi’s Vibrant ImagesHelp NASA Develop Autonomous Rovers The holidays are fast approaching. But what do you get the person who has everything?Sotheby’s auction house in New York is putting three Moon rocks up for bid later this month.The lunar samples, returned to Earth in 1970 by the Soviet Union’s robotic Luna 16 probe, are described as “the only known documented samples of the Moon available for private ownership.”AdChoices广告Such specimens tend to remain in the government’s possession; laws prevent public gifts—like those handed out by the Nixon administration—from being transferred to individuals.These stones, however, are the exception.According to Sotheby’s, they were ceremonially presented to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, widow of the late Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer Sergei Pavlovich Korolev.The tiny samples (0.2 grams each) were first sold by Sotheby’s in 1993 to a private American collector for $442,500—more than the estimated $30,000-$50,000.Now, they’re returning to the auction block to headline the broker’s “Space Exploration” event on Nov. 29. A public exhibition opens on Nov. 25.The lot is expected to fetch between $700,000 and $1 million.Part of the Soviet Luna program, Luna 16 (also known as Lunik 16) was the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample of lunar soil to Earth.In September 1970, the probe landed with the northern Mare Fecunditatis (“Sea of Fertility”), drilled a hole in the surface, and extracted a core sample before returning the soil to Earth.Luna 16 represented the first lunar sample return mission by the Soviet Union, and was the third overall, following NASA’s Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 flights.This summer, a woman claiming to own a vial of Moon dust—gifted to her as a child by Neil Armstrong—preemptively sued NASA for possession.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has previously taken the position that “private persons cannot own lunar material,” because it is property of the government.Considering the federal agency has criminally investigated people selling lunar material, and even tried to seize such artifacts in the past, the woman was simply taking precautions to protect her souvenir.More lunar coverage on Geek.com:Who Owns the Moon, Anyway?Thousands of Neil Armstrong’s Souvenirs Up for AuctionThe Full Moon is Electric, Boogie Woogie Woogielast_img read more

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