It's only a speck but some moon dust from the original Apollo 11 mission is back in NASA's hands.
The speck of moon dust was only one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) wide and was attached to a transparent piece of tape. To an auction house in St. Louis it was worth between $1,000 and $1,500. However, NASA got wind of the dust and was able to get it back.
The speck was first learned about by the United States Attorney's Office for Eastern Missouri. From there it contacted NASA, which contacted Regency-Superior Auctions, the auction house that was going to sell the moon dust. Officials from the U.S. Attorney's Office were able able to get the dust back for Regency-Superior at no cost and hand it over to NASA.
There are no offenses and selling the speck would not have been illegal. Still, NASA wanted it back, since it is the space agency's possession. It was acquired by Regency-Superior from a woman who inherited from her late husband. Her late husband had acquired it in good faith.
NASA said in an interview with Space.com that plenty of other people have gotten a hold of moon dust legally in some way shape or form. Often, this has come from residue on spacesuits or a temporary stowage bag.
According to a report in The New York Times, this moon dust was originally lodged in the film cartridge of a camera of the Apollo 11 astronauts. The astronauts dropped the camera and that's where the dust came from.
It's been more than 40 years since the Apollo 11 mission, which was the first time man ever landed on a moon. From this and other missions, NASA astronauts have brought home 842 pounds of moon material.
Much of it has been kept by NASA, some has been donated to museums, governments and a small percentage has been made available, in some way or shape, to the public. There are a lot of fake moon rocks on the market.