NASA wants its moon dust and cockroaches back – now!

NASA wants its moon dust and cockroaches back – now!

BOSTON (AP) – NASA wants its moon dust and cockroaches back.

The space agency asked Boston-based RR Auction to suspend the sale of moon dust collected during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, which had subsequently been fed to cockroaches during an experiment to determine whether the moon rock contained any type of pathogen. posing a threat to health. terrestrial life.

The material, a NASA lawyer said in a letter to the auctioneer, still belongs to the federal government.

The experiment’s material, including a vial of about 40 milligrams of moon dust and three cockroach carcasses, was supposed to sell for at least $400,000 but was withdrawn from auction, RR said on Thursday.

“All Apollo samples as stipulated in this collection of items belong to NASA and no person, university or other entity has been permitted to retain them after analysis, destruction or other use for any purpose, especially for sale or display,” it said. the letter from NASA dated June 15th.

He continued: “We are requesting that you no longer facilitate the sale of any and all items containing the Apollo 11 Lunar Soil Experiment (the cockroaches, slides and post-destructive test specimens) by immediately halting the bidding process,” the post wrote. NASA. .

In another letter dated June 22, NASA’s attorney asked RR Auction to work with the current owner of the material to return it to the federal government.

The Apollo 11 mission brought over 47 pounds (21.3 kg) of moon rock back to Earth. Some were fed insects, fish and other small creatures to see if it would kill them.

Cockroaches that were fed moon dust were brought to the University of Minnesota, where entomologist Marion Brooks dissected and studied them.

“I found no evidence of infectious agents,” Brooks, who died in 2007, told the Minneapolis Tribune for an October 1969 story. She found no evidence that lunar material was toxic or had other harmful effects on insects, according to the article.

But the moonstone and cockroaches were never returned to NASA, instead displayed at Brooks’ home. His daughter sold them in 2010, and now they are up for sale again by a shipper that RR did not disclose.

It is not uncommon for a third party to claim something that is being auctioned, said Mark Zaid, an attorney for RR Auction.

“NASA has a history of searching for items related to early space programs,” although they have been inconsistent in doing so, Zaid said. By its own admission, NASA acknowledged in one of its letters that it did not know about the previous auction of the cockroach experiment items.

“We’ve worked with NASA before and we always cooperate with the US government when they claim items,” Zaid said. “At the end of the day, we want to act properly and legally.”

RR Auction is holding the lot for now, but ultimately it’s up to the shipper to work something out with NASA, he said.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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