December 9, 2022

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NASA demands return of lunar samples

NASA demands return of lunar samples

NASA asks the auction house to prevent the sale of historical specimens. It’s about moon dust and the cockroaches that were eating it.

Apollo missions and trophies

The 1969 Apollo 11 mission brought more than 21 kilograms of lunar material from the surface of the Silver Globe. Rocks and dust have been used in various experiments, including determining whether cosmic soils can harm Earth’s organisms (astronauts even spent some time in quarantine so as not to bring some cosmic germs to Earth). For this purpose, lunar specimens were fed to small fish and insects for dissection.

Such was the fate of three cockroaches that, after being fed with moon dust, were taken to the University of Minnesota, where entomologist Marion Brooks conducted their posthumous examination. In the course of the research, it was established that the lunar substance is not toxic and does not harm insects in any way (except perhaps for the fact that they were dissected because of it).

How did worms enter the world?

The cockroaches were not returned to NASA, but remained in the hands of Marion Brooks, who died in 2007. After 3 years, his daughter offered the manufactured bugs for sale and an anonymous contractor bought them.

Currently, a batch of crickets and a vial of lunar dust are up for sale at an RR auction, but NASA attorneys say both the bugs and the Apollo 11 material are still federal property and cannot be traded.

Return request letter

All Apollo samples in this set of items belong to NASA and have never been allowed to be stored by any person, university or other entity after analysis, destruction, or any other use for any purpose, including sale or display.

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We read in the message that NASA sent to the unknown viewer of the elements. The entire collection was auctioned for $400,000, but the deal was blocked. The US government requires interested parties to return federal property.

RR Auction has announced that it will do everything in its power to settle the issue between the current owner and NASA. Such situations have occurred before in the context of items that are a legacy of the Apollo missions, the RR representative explains that the space agency reacts to such events, but is often very slow and does not pick up items in the first attempts to sell them, and only in later auctions

Source: NASA, apnews.com