A Pinch of Moon Dust Was Sold at an Auction for $500,000

Space May 05, 2022

How does an actual sample of Moon end up being sold to an unknown individual, ready to pay a hefty amount of money at an auction for a few specks of dust? This story is both bizarre and absolutely humane.

When Neil Armstrong climbed out of the lunar module and stood there looking at the vast land of our satellite, the first thing he noted was the peculiar dust particles that were almost like powder, according to his report to Houston. Well, it turned out the dust was incredibly clingy and caused real havoc to all the tech they had on the module, getting into all crevices and sticking to the astronaut's suits wherever possible.

The same thing happened when the samples of Moon land were gathered during the Apollo missions - the scientists had to pack the bag with the sample into an additional cover because the bag itself was all soaked in the clingy dust particles. Later, unbeknownst to the bag's actual worth and the treasure it contained, it was stolen by the head of the Cosmosphere space museum, who was secretly selling off museum artifacts and getting illegal profit off it. The bag was found inside his home, but its actual worth wasn't recognized. It was later sold at an auction to a woman in Illinois for a mere $995.

As the woman sent the Moon sample bag back to NASA for authentication, she was startled to find out it was genuine and actually contained small samples of Moon dust. NASA refused to return the bag as no individual is supposed to have such samples in their possession, but the woman sued them and won the case, auctioning the bag for $1.8 million. NASA did send the bag back to its rightful owner, but they kept a few of the Moon samples to themselves, jeopardizing the whole deal. The woman sued them for the second time and NASA had to oblige and return the Moon dust samples.

The samples went on sale once again and were bought by an anonymous buyer for $500,00. Scientists have mixed feelings about the whole deal - some believe it's a breakthrough in the space trade department and a beginning of a new space business era, while others are sure that all samples are important and shouldn't be owned by civilians no matter how much money they are willing to pay.

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