Why Is It Illegal to Sell Moon Rocks?

Why Is It Illegal to Sell Moon Rocks? (EXPLAINED)

It is illegal to sell moon rocks because they are considered the nation’s treasures. The gray moon rocks were given as a gift to every single state of the United Nations and one hundred and thirty-six countries by former president Richard Nixon.

These rocks have a value of millions on the black market. To everyone’s astonishment, a lady offered to sell a moon rock for an amount of 1.7 million dollars, and NASA shortly after detained her in a sting operation.

Why Is It Illegal To Sell Moon Rocks? (Explained)

The primary reason it is illegal to sell moon rocks is that there is no technique or procedure to own a legally acquired piece of moon rock which is a lunar material.

Most available moon rocks are either fake, and people are trying to commit fraud, or if someone has an original, they are in possession of the stolen property. 

The moon rocks that are present on the earth came from the Apollo Missions.

Every single moon rock is owned by the government of the United States, with some minor exceptions.

Moon rocks are considered national treasures owned by the government.

There are only a few of them with common people, and this ownership will surely bring legal problems if they try to sell them because it is evident by now that their possession was not legally obtained and that they should not have kept them in the first place if found illegitimately.

Moon rocks were personal gifts that the astronauts brought by breaking the rules.

Several years ago, some moon rocks disappeared or were stolen, and a few are still unaccounted for.

It is easy to identify moon rocks as they differ from the earth’s rocks.

Thus, if you are not from the government of the United States and if you own moon rock, then there are just three explanations:

  • You have obtained the rock from someone without authority to provide it to you.
  • You stole a moon rock.
  • The moon rock that you own is a dupe or fake.

Moon Rocks: The Science Behind Them

According to the radiometric dating methods, most scientists went by this theory 4.5 billion years ago.

Moon rocks brought by the astronauts in the Apollo mission were one of the most significant contributions to science.

They reshaped everyone’s understanding of the entire solar system and the moon.

Gathering more information about them is another important reason for returning to the moon. 

Studying the samples of the moon rocks in laboratories helped the scientists to establish modern planetary science.

It also gave critical insights into the different geological processes that go on various planetary bodies.

It also contributed to diverse fields like astronomy, chemistry, biology, material science, engineering, geology, and medicine. 

Above all these things, the study of moon rocks has changed our understanding of the moon’s origin, the evolution of our entire solar system, and the nature of the moon’s surface.

  • Ancient moon surface: A study on the moon rocks have concluded that the moon’s surface is extremely old, and this is because it is highly saturated or concentrated with craters that might have taken a billion year to accumulate. 

Geochemists have analyzed them and found isotopes that disintegrate or decay over long timescales.

They concluded that the moon rock samples were way older than most of the terrestrial rocks found to date (about 4.5 billion years old).

The planetary scientists found a connection that virtually affects every study related to the moon and other planetary bodies.

Scientists compared the first lunar sample’s age from the landing site of Apollo 11 with the total number of craters formed due to impact in the same region from where the samples were collected.

They utilized this information to create a model of how the impact craters form and how quickly on the moon’s surface. 

  • Lunar origin: The most popular theory today of the moon’s origin is known as the giant hypothesis of impact. This study was based on the pieces of evidence collected throughout the Apollo program. It was that a body similar to the size of planet Mars (known as Theia) collided with the earth, followed by its fragmentation and ejection of a chunk of mantle and crust of the earth into space. Then, the ejected terrestrial mass mixed with the Theia’s remnants, followed by accumulation and cooling into a giant mass called the moon or a satellite. 

This idea has been derived from multiple influences and observations made from the samples from Apollo and experiments on the moon rock’s surface, including Iron, dryness, and Magma Ocean.

  • The story behind the entire solar system: One of the most significant studies is the “Nice model” which depicts information about other planetary bodies and the evolution of our solar system. 

The planets belonging to the outer solar system were initially close together.

At the same time, they formed, and after multiple hundred millions of years, the planets’ orbits turned unstable, making Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus migrate rapidly to their current-day orbits (with increased distance from the sun). 

The planet’s movement caused the pulling of materials (Kuiper belt inward) from the solar system (outer), where they collided with moons and planets, causing chaos throughout the entire solar system.

Let’s Talk a Bit Regarding Lunar Meteorites

About one in a thousand new meteorites discovered is a lunar meteorite.

In contrast, most meteorites obtained hail from the asteroid belt.

It is a solid piece of debris (meteorite) that is acknowledged to have originated from the satellite moon.

Most lunar meteorites launched by the moon impact the earth by making lunar craters that generally measure a few kilometers in diameter. 

The cosmic ray history about the exposure of noble gases has proven that every lunar meteorite was ejected from the moon’s surface in the past twenty million years.

After leaving the moon, the lunar meteorites accumulate in the Earth’s orbit, and eventually, they succumb to the gravity of the Earth.

After getting ejected from the moon, a few lunar meteorites also get launched into the sun’s orbit.

These lunar meteorites stay in space much longer but eventually collide with the earth’s orbit and land. 

The lunar meteorites collected represent random samples that belong to the moon, and they provide a better representative lunar surface sampling than the samples from the Apollo mission.

These are the only type of moon rocks available for common individuals’ private ownership in Oman and Africa without causing any legal or government issues.

While it is only used for education and research in the United States and Japan, no private ownership is allowed.

These do not belong to the US government’s property, whereas only the moon rocks obtained from the Apollo mission are. 

Moon Rocks: Characteristics, Composition, and Classification

Moon rocks generally range from white to grayish-black to green in color.

Some of the moon rocks are hard, fragile, and glassy.

By further analysis of the moon rocks, three types of rocks were found; volcanic ash, breccia form, and basaltic rock.

Only rock named as Pristine is a special type of rock that is not hit by meteorites, and it is majorly composed of plagioclase feldspar that is rich in calcium, and its color is gray. 

There are two unique compositions of moon rocks; the first is not oxidized due to no water availability, and the second is pockmarked, resulting from meteor crashes.

This pockmark happens because the moon has no atmosphere for which meteorites form pits. 

Based on the composition of minerals, scientists have named a new segment of moon rocks known as the KREEP rocks. The KREEP rocks contain high potassium (K) amounts, phosphorous (P), and rare earth elements (REE).

These rocks have a radioactive nature and are higher in thorium than the rocks from the earth.

How Much Does a Moon Rock Is Worth It?

We already know that the moon rocks are not for sale as they are property of the government.

But, what we know is the amount it took to bring them here, which is estimated to be around fifty thousand US dollars per gram. 

Everyone got to know that the moon rock of 0.05 grams that the government of the United States gave to the Honduran government as a gift was once auctioned for a whopping five million US dollars.

A few samples gifted to US governors and state heads from the Apollo 17 cost around two million US dollars per gram of the silver rock. 

Thus, we can assess that the cost of a kilogram of the moon rock will be around a hundred billion dollars. 

What Is It about Moon Rocks that People Like to Purchase?

People find pride in owning a prized possession or something timeless and invaluable, such as the moon rocks.

Though it is illegal to keep the original moon rocks as they belong to the US government’s property, people like to keep dupes or lunar meteorites found. 

We hope this article on why is it illegal to sell moon rocks has answered all your doubts and queries.