Cockroaches claimed by NASA

This is an unexpected request. The auction house RR Auction was planning to sell them. However, they belong to someone else. This is the story of the cockroaches claimed by NASA.

They also claim moon dust that belongs to them. They are samples collected during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. These samples were also fed to cockroaches. What was the purpose of the experiment? To determine if the moon rocks contained any pathogens. It could pose a threat to life on Earth.

Cockroaches claimed by NASA were sold along with samples of lunar dust.
The cockroaches that NASA claims were sold alongside samples of lunar dust.

Table of Contents

Apollo 11

The dust still belongs to the federal government. It did not grant anyone permission to keep the samples after study, let alone sell them.

RR Auction planned to sell the materials from the experiment. They include a glass jar containing about 40 milligrams of lunar dust. Cockroaches claimed by NASA were also part of the bidding. It was planned to ask for at least $400,000. However, at NASA’s request, these lots have already been withdrawn from the auction.

The Apollo 11 mission brought more than 21.3 kilograms of moon rocks back to Earth. Some of it was fed to insects, fish and other small creatures. Cockroaches fed on the lunar dust were taken to the University of Minnesota. There, entomologist Marion Brooks dissected and studied them. She found no evidence that the lunar material was toxic or caused harmful effects on the insects.

These remains were never returned to NASA.
These remains were never returned to NASA.

Never returned

But the moon dust and cockroaches were never returned to NASA. They were on display in Brooks’ home. She died in 2007 and her daughter sold them in 2010. They are now for sale by a consignor whose name was not disclosed.

At the moment, the auction house has the lot. It’s up to the consignor to come to some sort of agreement with NASA, noted Mark Zaid, attorney for RR Auction. “We’ve worked with NASA before. We’ve always cooperated with the federal government when they claim to own items. At the end of the day, we want to act properly and legally,” he said.

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