The samples will be up for grabs at the Bonhams New York auction on April 13. There are five aluminum sample subs, each with a 10 mm of carbon tape on top containing moon dust ready for the next owners.
Neil Armstrong, who was the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969, collected several samples. Now one lucky person can actually own one or more.
The particles were originally stored as powdery moon dust and rock fragments in sample bags, but NASA has since opened them for testing. But to make its history even more interesting (not that moon samples actually need to get more interesting), the same items were also “lost by NASA.”
Back in 2005, reports claimed Max Ary, a curator from Cosmosphere space museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, was facing fraud and theft charges after selling some items that belonged to NASA. He was later found guilty, and the stolen samples were confiscated and sold to pay damages. The owner sent them back to NASA for ID and testing, and they turned out to be the same stolen samples from the Apollo 11 mission.
After that, NASA retained five of the six scanning electron microscope sample (SEM) stubs with the lunar dust. Lunar expert and geologist Prof. Stephen J. Mojzsisin confirmed to match the composition and textures of the particles from the lunar mission, but only for four samples.
The other one, which had a carbon tape from a different generation than the others, “suggests that the sampling protocol was different in orientation and technique (from) the other samples,” explains Mojzsisin in a statement.
As you can imagine, though, purchasing a bit of the moon, which Bonhams explains is the “only Apollo sample that can be legally sold,” is expected to fetch between $800,000 and $1.2 million on April 13.