Missing Speck of Moon Dust Found

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A speck of moon dust reportedly retrieved from an astronaut's camera lens after man's first trip to the moon in 1969 went missing roughly 40 years ago. And it just turned up.

The moon dust was found in an auction house in St. Louis, which estimated the worth to be between $1,000 and $1,500.

"It's a speck — the size of a fingertip," David Kols of Regency-Superior auction house told Time. "But it's lunar material, and since we're not going back to the moon in my lifetime or yours, that makes it worth a lot to some people."

The U.S. Attorney's office in St. Louis announced the recovered moon dust on Thursday. The dust was lifted from the cartridge using a 1-inch piece of clear tape. Somehow, it reached the black market and was sold in 2001, NASA investigators believe, to a German collector who cut up the tape into tiny slivers, rather than return it to the U.S. government.

When investigators from both NASA and the U.S. Attorney's office noticed moon dust listed for sale in St. Louis, they shut down the transaction with the cooperation of the auction house and the seller, Time reported.

To learn more about how the moon dust was found, visit Time.