Moon dust eaten by cockroaches put up for auction

(ORDO NEWS) — How did the cockroaches that digested the lunar dust delivered by the Apollo 11 mission end up at the auction?

New Hampshire-based firm RR Auction, which specializes in space memorabilia, recently auctioned off a rather strange but definitely interesting object – cockroach-eaten moon dust from Apollo 11, which includes three of the original cockroaches in nearly flawless condition.

“An extraordinary display of samples from the Apollo 11 Moon Dust Experiment, in which German cockroaches were given lunar soil material to observe potential pathological effects.

The display included a vial of small particles of material recovered from cockroaches after biological testing, three of the preserved Blattella germanica cockroaches, and a slide containing a histological preparation of Blattella germanica supplied by a lunar sample, among several images and souvenirs associated with the first manned landing on the moon. , says RR Auction.

It all started with the first mission, when NASA scientists couldn’t know exactly what the astronauts would encounter on the Moon.

Although most space biologists were absolutely certain that the Moon was devoid of alien life, they could not be sure that it was not inhabited by microbes that could threaten life on Earth.

Moon dust eaten by cockroaches put up for auction 2
Red cockroaches (Blattella germanica) and moon dust

To avoid such dire consequences, the crew, their spacecraft, and everything that returned with them to Earth were quarantined for 21 days after. NASA even built a special facility to isolate astronauts and material from the outside world, called the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.

There, the astronauts underwent many medical examinations, and several animals (including cockroaches) came into contact with moon rocks and dust. It is estimated that approximately 10 percent of the 22 kg of moon rocks returned by the Apollo 11 mission were used for this purpose.

After the end of the quarantine period, NASA also contracted Saint Paul University entomologist Marion Brooks to further study the cockroaches that had eaten the moon dust.

It should be noted that NASA’s quarantine experiments proved that astronauts and animals were not harmed by their exposure to the Moon, but the space agency wanted to make sure there were no other unnoticed side effects.

Brooks also found that there were no ill effects from exposure to lunar dust and continued to take samples from NASA, placing them at her home.

Three years after her death in 2007, a specimen will be auctioned for $10,000 by the former Regency-Superior Gallery in Beverly Hills, California, USA. Apollo 11’s lunar dust was also put up for auction last March, sparking a lot of interest in the material.

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