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NASA stops selling moon dust digested by cockroaches

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NASA has stopped an auction for a curious object: a small amount of moon dust that was digested by cockroachesas part of an experience after the return of Apollo 11 Earth. In addition to the dust, the lot contained a board with the cockroaches in question (already dead, of course) newspaper clippings, photos and notes from the researcher in charge of the experiment, entomologist Dr. Marion Brooks.

The reason for the interruption is simple: the Nasa claims the material belongs to him, not Brooks. A lawyer for NASA’s Office of General Counsel wrote a letter to RR Auction, the company responsible for the auction, on Wednesday (22).

“NASA claims legal ownership of the materials comprising the Apollo 11 Moon Dust Experiment…based on the information and documentation provided in the lot description and evidence of contemporary NASA contracting practices,” it says. the text. “It is clear and undeniable that the materials that make up the experiment are the property of NASA,” he concludes.

Framework produced by Dr. Marion Brooks with the results of the experiment.  Cockroach carcasses in the center and moon dust on the right.  (Image: RR Auctions/Reproduction)

Framework produced by Dr. Marion Brooks with the results of the experiment. Cockroach carcasses in the center and moon dust on the right. (Image: RR Auctions/Reproduction)

Initially the RR Auctions rejected NASA’s request to stop the sale, asking the agency to further explain how it reached its decision, both factually and legally. After further discussions, the company changed its position.

“As strange as this lot is, the historical value of the role played by these cockroaches in the US space program is unquestionable. Although RR Auction takes no position on the legitimacy of NASA’s claims, we always seek to cooperate with the government. American in its ownership claims and we have decided to remove the lot to allow the parties to resolve the matter,” Mark Zaid, attorney for RR Auction, said in a statement provided to collectSPACE.

When announced, the lot was valued at US$400,000, or just over 2 million reais. But by the time it was removed from the auction, it was, pardon the pun, “cheap”: the highest bidder was US$36,300.00, or around R$190,000.

Source: Canaltech

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