Sotheby & # 39; s announced on October 30 that it will be auctioning moon rocks shipped to Earth by an unmanned Soviet space mission in 1970, and expects to sell between $ 700,000 and $ 1 million.
The stones to be auctioned in New York City on November 29 are the only known documented samples of the moon that are legally available for private ownership.
The rocks include basalt fragments resembling the earth's volcanic rock, as well as fragments of surface remains known as regolith. Similar samples were dated 3.4 billion years ago.
They are sold by an unidentified private American collector who bought them in 1993 from Nina Ivanovna Koroleva, the widow of former Soviet Space Program Director Sergei Pavlovich Korolev.
The size of the fragments ranges from about 2 x 2 mm to 1 x 1 mm. The Soviet Union presented it to Koroleva as a gift to recognize her deceased husband's contributions to the space program.
Sotheby & # 39; s said the particles are encased under glass with a Russian badge that they call soil samples from the moon.
Wealthy collectors pay huge sums for space artefacts. Last year, Sotheby's got $ 1.8 million for a moon-dust zipper bag used by US astronaut Neil Armstrong during the first manned moon mission in 1969.
Most other known lunar samples remain the property of US and Russian space programs. The Russian artifacts were received by the Soviet Union through the unmanned Luna 16, Luna 20 and Luna 24 missions.
The auctioned particles were obtained from Luna-16, which drilled a hole in the surface of the moon to a depth of 35 cm to extract a core sample.
Based on reports from dpa and Reuters