NASA Orders to Halt the Sale of Moon Mud Collected In the course of the 1969 Apollo 11 Mission

The Nationwide Aeronautics and Area Administration (NASA) has requested Boston-based RR Public sale to halt the sale of moon mud collected throughout the 1969 Apollo 11 mission that had subsequently been fed to cockroaches throughout an experiment to find out if the lunar rock contained any type of pathogen that posed a menace to terrestrial life.

The fabric, a NASA lawyer mentioned in a letter to the auctioneer, nonetheless belongs to the federal authorities.

“The fabric from the experiment, together with a vial with about 40 milligrams of moon mud and three cockroach carcasses, was anticipated to promote for not less than $400,000 (almost Rs. three crore), however has been pulled from the public sale block,” RR mentioned on Thursday.

“All Apollo samples, as stipulated on this assortment of things, belong to NASA and no individual, college, or different entity has ever been given permission to maintain them after evaluation, destruction, or different use for any objective, particularly on the market or particular person show,” mentioned NASA’s letter dated June 15.

It went on: “We’re requesting that you simply now not facilitate the sale of any and all objects containing the Apollo 11 Lunar Soil Experiment (the cockroaches, slides, and post-destructive testing specimen) by instantly stopping the bidding course of,” NASA wrote.

In one other letter dated June 22, NASA’s lawyer requested RR Public sale to work with the present proprietor of the fabric to return it to the federal authorities.

The Apollo 11 mission introduced greater than 47 kilos (21.three kilograms) of lunar rock again to Earth. Some was fed to bugs, fish and different small creatures to see if it will kill them.

The cockroaches that had been fed moon mud had been dropped at the College of Minnesota the place entomologist Marion Brooks dissected and studied them.

“I discovered no proof of infectious brokers,” Brooks, who died in 2007, informed the Minneapolis Tribune for an October 1969 story. She discovered no proof that the moon materials was poisonous or induced another unwell results within the bugs, in line with the article.

However the moon rock and the cockroaches had been by no means returned to NASA, as an alternative displayed at Brooks’ house. Her daughter bought them in 2010, and now they’re up on the market once more by a consignor who RR didn’t disclose.

It is common for a 3rd celebration to put declare to one thing that’s being auctioned, mentioned Mark Zaid, an lawyer for RR Public sale.

“NASA has a observe report of pursuing objects associated to the early house applications,” though they’ve been inconsistent in doing so, Zaid mentioned. By its personal admission, NASA acknowledged in certainly one of its letters that it didn’t know concerning the earlier public sale of the cockroach experiment objects.

“Now we have labored with NASA earlier than and have at all times cooperated with the US authorities once they lay claims to objects,” Zaid mentioned. “On the finish of the day, we need to act appropriately and lawfully.”

RR Public sale is holding on to the lot for now, however finally, it is as much as the consignor to work one thing out with NASA, he mentioned.



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