(ORDO NEWS) — NASA has demanded the return of moon dust and the remains of the cockroaches that ate it!
The space agency has asked RR Auction to suspend the sale of lunar dust collected in 1969 from the Apollo 11 mission, which was later fed to cockroaches in an experiment to determine if extraterrestrial dust contains a pathogen that poses a threat to Earth. life.
This material, points out a NASA lawyer in a letter to the auctioneers, is still owned by the federal government.
The material, including a vial containing approximately 40 milligrams of moon dust and the remains of three cockroaches, was scheduled to be auctioned for at least $400,000 but has now been withdrawn, RR auction officials said Thursday.
“All samples of the Apollo mission series are owned by NASA and no other person or entity, including universities, has ever received permission to keep them after analysis, much less for the purposes of display or sale,” the NASA letter dated June 15.
In another letter, dated June 22, a NASA lawyer asks RR Auction to work with the current beneficial owner of the experimental material to return the illegally obtained material to federal officials.
As part of the Apollo 11 mission, about 21.3 kilograms of lunar soil was delivered to Earth. Some of the dust was fed to insects, fish and other small terrestrial animals to see if the material would kill them.
The cockroaches, fed on moon dust, were taken to the University of Minnesota, where entomologist Marion Brooks dissected them and examined the remains. The entomologist then reported that she found no traces of pathogens in the remains of cockroaches.
However, this lunar dust and cockroaches were not immediately returned to NASA. Brooks died in 2007, and moon dust and cockroach remains continued to be displayed in her home. The entomologist’s daughter sold them in 2010, and now they were nearly sold again by an unidentified RR auction.
For its part, the RR auction, having removed the lot from sale, said that he was now waiting for the conflict to be resolved – the auction house had a conversation with the seller of the lot and sent him to negotiate with NASA.
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