Samples of the lunar surface collected during the Apollo 11 mission are going up for sale and NASA is not happy.
When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon more than 50 years ago, one of the things they did was collect samples of lunar dust and rock to take back with them to Earth for further study.
While the samples that they and the other Apollo mission astronauts collected has since gone on to yield a great deal of important scientific data, NASA met with an unexpected problem – keeping the samples out of the hands of private individuals who might seek to profit from them.
Over the years, the space agency has been involved in numerous lawsuits designed to keep lunar samples from being sold to the highest bidder and for the most part it has been quite successful.
Now though, samples of dust from the Apollo 11 mission will be sold at auction house Bonhams in New York on April 13th despite NASA expressing its discontent at the move.
Estimated to be worth between $800,000 and $1.2 million, the dust had been the subject of legal battles going back decades.
On the plus side, the proceeds will be donated to various scientific charities.
Given that NASA intends to send astronauts back to the Moon in the near future, however, there will no doubt be plenty more opportunities to collect samples of lunar dust for scientists to study.