NASA Wants Its Moon Dust And Cockroaches Back -- Now!

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BOSTON (AP) — NASA wants its satellite particulate and cockroaches back.

The abstraction bureau has asked Boston-based RR Auction to halt the merchantability of satellite particulate collected during the 1969 Apollo 11 ngo that had subsequently been fed to cockroaches during an experimentation to find if the lunar stone contained immoderate benignant of pathogen that posed a menace to terrestrial life.

The material, a NASA lawyer said successful a missive to the auctioneer, inactive belongs to the national government.

The worldly from the experiment, including a vial with astir 40 milligrams of satellite particulate and 3 cockroach carcasses, was expected to merchantability for astatine slightest $400,000, but has been pulled from the auction block, RR said Thursday.

“All Apollo samples, arsenic stipulated successful this postulation of items, beryllium to NASA and nary person, university, oregon different entity has ever been fixed support to support them aft analysis, destruction, oregon different usage for immoderate purpose, particularly for merchantability oregon idiosyncratic display,” said NASA’s missive dated June 15.

It went on: “We are requesting that you nary longer facilitate the merchantability of immoderate and each items containing the Apollo 11 Lunar Soil Experiment (the cockroaches, slides, and post-destructive investigating specimen) by instantly stopping the bidding process,” NASA wrote.

In different missive dated June 22, NASA’s lawyer asked RR Auction to enactment with the existent proprietor of the worldly to instrumentality it to the national government.

The Apollo 11 ngo brought much than 47 pounds (21.3 kilograms) of lunar stone backmost to Earth. Some was fed to insects, food and different tiny creatures to spot if it would termination them.

The cockroaches that were fed satellite particulate were brought to the University of Minnesota wherever entomologist Marion Brooks dissected and studied them.

“I recovered nary grounds of infectious agents,” Brooks, who died successful 2007, told the Minneapolis Tribune for an October 1969 story. She recovered nary grounds that the satellite worldly was toxic oregon caused immoderate different sick effects successful the insects, according to the article.

But the satellite stone and the cockroaches were ne'er returned to NASA, alternatively displayed astatine Brooks’ home. Her girl sold them successful 2010, and present they are up for merchantability again by a consignor who RR did not disclose.

It’s not antithetic for a 3rd enactment to laic assertion to thing that is being auctioned, said Mark Zaid, an lawyer for RR Auction.

“NASA has a way grounds of pursuing items related to the aboriginal abstraction programs,” though they person been inconsistent successful doing so, Zaid said. By its ain admission, NASA acknowledged successful 1 of its letters that it did not cognize astir the erstwhile auction of the cockroach experimentation items.

“We person worked with NASA earlier and person ever cooperated with the U.S. authorities erstwhile they laic claims to items,” Zaid said. “At the extremity of the day, we privation to enactment appropriately and lawfully.”

RR Auction is holding connected to the batch for now, but ultimately, it’s up to the consignor to enactment thing retired with NASA, helium said.

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