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SPACE | Moon rocks

12-pound lunar meteorite sells for more than $600K

Digital writers

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 2:53 PM - A 12-pound (5.5 kg) lunar meteorite has sold at auction for more than $600,000.

RR Auction, based in Boston, announced the meteorite, which is comprised of six fragments that fit together, was purchased for $612,500 by a representative from the Tam Chuc Pagoda complex in Ha Nam Province, Vietnam.

Prior to the auction, RR estimated it would sell for $500,000.

(RELATED: Former doorstop turns out to be meteorite worth $100,000)

"It is one of the larger lunar meteorites ever found," Geoff Notkin, the chief executive officer of Aerolite Meteorites, the company selling the specimen, said in a Reuters interview. "And there's never been one like this and we call it a lunar puzzle."

Although the pieces closely resemble regular brownish-black earth rocks to the untrained eye, Notkin said it was a thing of rare beauty to a meteorite aficionado such as himself.

Some pieces of moon rock have made their way back to earth in the care of Apollo astronauts. The rest were blasted off the moon's surface by meteorite impacts, typically hundreds or thousands of years ago, blazing through earth's atmosphere as a shooting star.

Most likely disappear into the planet's oceans, but a few hundred confirmed examples of lunar meteorites have been found in recent decades on land, many in Antarctica or the deserts of northwest Africa.

In 2012, Heritage Auctions offered what it said then was the largest chunk of moon rock ever come to up for auction, weighing about 4 pounds (1.8 kg).

(RELATED: Got your hands on a meteorite? Here's how to know for sure)

Even the largest single fragment of the Aerolite specimen, known as Northwest Africa 11789, appears to be bigger, weighing over 4.4 pounds (2 kg), according to its entry in the Meteoritical Bulletin Database run by the Meteoritical Society, a non-profit group based in Virginia.

The database entry says the meteorite is composed of nine pieces, not six.

"I'm pretty sure it was a mistake," said Dustin Dickens, the meteorite trader who submitted the entry after purchasing the specimen last year in Mauritiana from a meteorite hunter he said wanted anonymity after finding the pieces in neighboring Mali.

He believes it was seven pieces, but said he gave the smallest piece, weighing a few dozen grams, to the University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics for testing.

Notkin and RR Auction did not immediately respond to questions about the discrepancy.

In 2007, one of the largest lunar meteorites ever found was discovered in Morocco, a single lump weighing 25 pounds (11.5 kg.)


With files from Reuters

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