In the United States, it's illegal to buy and sell moon rocks retrieved from the lunar surface during the Apollo missions. However, the law doesn't apply to the tiny moon pebbles seen above that a Soviet robotic probe drilled out of the lunar surface and sent back to Earth in 1970. In 1993, Sotheby's auctioned these "Soil Particles From Luna-16" off for $400,000. Now, they're going on the block again and expected to go for twice that amount or even more. According to Sotheby's, "the sale will mark just the second time that an actual piece of another world has ever been offered for public sale." From Collect Space
The lunar samples were originally presented by the Soviet government to Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, the widow of Sergei Korolev, the "Chief Designer" of the Russian space program. Under Korolev's direction, the Soviet Union successfully put the world's first satellite into Earth orbit and launched the first human into space. His unexpected death in 1966 came before he could see the outcome of the space race to the moon.
Four years after Korolev died, the Soviets launched Luna 16, the first of three robotic lunar sample return missions. Touching down after the U.S. Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 astronauts had come and gone from the moon, Luna 16 deployed an extendable arm to drill and extract a core sample 14 inches (35 centimeters) deep. The 3.5 ounces (101 grams) of soil and rocks that it collected were then deposited into a capsule for their return to Earth.
The display gifted to Koroleva contains three grains of the Luna 16 material, weighing about 0.0007 ounces (0.2 grams). The central fragment is basalt, typical of the moon's mare (or "seas") terrain while the adjoining two larger fragments are regolith with glass coatings caused by an micrometeoroid impact, according to Sotheby's.
More at Sotheby's: "Returned to Earth by the Soviet Luna-16 Mission in 1970, the Only Known Documented Moon Rocks in Private Hands Come to Auction"
RIP Starship SN4 😭https://t.co/klPMtZHxjW pic.twitter.com/hrrElBXmSC — Chris B – NSF (@NASASpaceflight) May 29, 2020 SpaceX’s Starship SN4 prototype launch vehicle just exploded in a huge fireball during a static fire test in Boca Chica, Texas. While the Starship spacecraft is still early in development, the explosion doesn’t feel great leading up to the SpaceX-NASA historic […]
Astronaut David Scott re-created, in 1971 during the Apollo 15 mission, Galileo’s “falling bodies” experiment by dropping a hammer and feather on the moon at the same time. Simply, both fell at the same rate because there was no air resistance. screengrab via Wonders of Physics/YouTube (Digg)
On Tuesday evening, the night before NASA astronaut Bob Behnken was set to launch into orbit about a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, he launched his own rocket from Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
Even though life is emerging following our COVID-19 lockdown, it’s not exactly time to celebrate defeating the insidious virus just yet. CDC officials warn that once a resurgence of the virus hits this winter, it could prove even more disastrous for the U.S. healthcare system than the opening salvo. That would follow the pattern suffered […]
When you were 10 and your mom demanded you finish your vegetables or go to your room, you were mad. Even as kids, we hated it when we were ordered to do something. Car insurance is a federal mandate, yet that’s only one of the reasons why most Americans would rather do just about anything […]
We all know the drill. As the overlords of the smartphone and tablet markets, the braintrust at Apple very seldom hold sales on their signature devices. So rather than spending almost $1,000 on a brand-new iPad Pro, the folks in Cupertino are instead giving you the opportunity to score one for about a third of […]