A strange sample was put up for auction earlier this month at Boston’s Remarkable Rarities Auction, and NASA is gently asking that the sale be canceled because it believes the materials belong to the federal government. The disputed goods? Cockroach remnants that were once given lunar dust samples from Apollo 11. The purpose of the experiment, which may sound completely absurd, was to determine whether any pathogens that presented a threat to life on Earth were present in the lunar soil that was gathered in 1969.
Moon dust remnants and cockroach experiment slides from Dr. Marion Brooks’ 1970 studies are among the objects up for sale. However, it turns out that since NASA still owns the artifacts, they shouldn’t have been placed up for sale. According to the letter NASA sent to RR Auctions on June 15, “all Apollo samples, as stipulated in this collection of items, belong to NASA and no person, university, or other entity has ever been given permission to keep them after analysis, destruction, or other use for any purpose, especially for sale or individual display.”
“We are demanding that you cease all bids immediately and no longer enable the sale of any and all things including the Apollo 11 Lunar Soil Experiment (the cockroaches, slides, and post-destructive testing samples).” The objects were sold by Dr. Brooks’ daughter in 2010, and RR Auction has decided not to reveal who has placed them up for auction once more. A lawyer for NASA urged the auction house to cooperate with the current owner to give the samples back to the federal government in a different letter dated June 22.
The auction house and NASA are currently together to find a solution. The lunar rock was given to cockroaches in an experiment to see if it contained any pathogens that presented a hazard to terrestrial life, and the space agency has urged Boston-based RR Auction to stop selling the moon dust that was obtained during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission.
In a letter to the auctioneer, a NASA lawyer claimed that the material still belonged to the federal government. The experiment’s materials, which included a vial containing roughly 40 milligrams of lunar dust and three cockroach carcasses, were supposed to fetch at least $400,000 at auction but have since been removed, according to RR on Thursday. No person, university, or other organization has ever been granted authority to preserve Apollo materials after examination, destruction, or other usage for any purpose, notably for sale or private exhibition, according to a letter from NASA dated June 15.