A Boston-based auction house is looking for the next proud owner of a 12-pound lunar meteorite, which it says has an estimated price tag of $500,000.
Bidding on the moon rock, also referred to as “The Moon Puzzle” and the “Buagaba,” is set to kick off Thursday and go until Oct. 18, according to RR Auction.
“A highly important, world-class example of a lunar meteorite, this was blasted off the surface of our moon in the distant past, likely by the impact of a different meteorite, then journeyed the quarter-million miles to Earth and—against all odds—survived a fiery descent through our atmosphere to be found in the wilds of the deserts of Northwest Africa in 2017,” the auction house said in an online description of the item.
The location where it was discovered also helped determine its scientific name – NWA 11789, the letters of which represent Northwest Africa, according to the auction house.
The meteorite has a “partial fusion crust,” a seemingly rare feature that was caused by the impact of severe heat as it descended through the atmosphere, the description said.
It’s also composed of six fragments that fit together like a puzzle, the largest of which weighs about 6 pounds.
Lunar meteorites previously uncovered were typically the size of a walnut or golf ball, Geoff Notkin told The Associated Press.
Notkin is the star of the TV show “Meteorite Men,” as well as the CEO of Aerolite Meteorites, who put the rock up for sale and vowed for its authenticity, RR Auctions said.
“As soon as we saw this, we knew it was extraordinarily unusual,” Notkin said. “This is close to a once in a lifetime find.”
The auction house touted the lunar meteorite’s “uniqueness,” saying it was “one of the most important meteorites available for acquisition anywhere in the world today and, perhaps, the most significant example of our nearest celestial neighbor ever offered for sale in the history of meteorite science.”
The sale could also reportedly prove to be quite special for an interested private collector.
Robert Livingston, RR’s executive vice president, told The Associated Press that the auction “is the only way a private collector” can secure this kind of item “because the moon rocks brought back by astronauts are U.S. government property.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.