DescriptionNWA 6950 LUNAR METEORITE - THE SINGLE MOST AESTHETIC LUNAR FRAGMENT ON EARTH
Lunar Mare - LUN
Sahara Desert at the Mali/Algeria Border - coordinates unknown
The Moon is perhaps the rarest naturally occurring substance on Earth, and now offered is the most aesthetic fragment. This natural, sculptural form is the result of a lunar meteorite having fragmented on impact in the Sahara, after which it was naturally sandblasted by desert winds over countless generations.
As can be discerned from the previous offerings, most lunar samples are breccias - but this singular example is not. NWA 6950 - originates from the Moon's dark basaltic plains. It is among the youngest lunar materials known and among the most important Moon rocks discovered (see following description). Found near the border between Mali and Algeria by nomadic Berbers in June 2011, NWA 6950 was purchased by a Moroccan dealer. The scientific abstract in the Meteoritical Bulletin which documents NWA 6950's lunar origins was authored by Dr. Anthony Irving, one of the world's foremost planetary experts, who also performed the classification work on, most notably, lots 49049 and 49086, (DaG 1058 and Tissint).
NWA 6950 consists primarily of basalt (volcanic rock) and cumulate olivine gabbro (dense greenish material that contains pyroxene, plagioclase and amphibole) - which proves the Moon was volcanically active far longer than imagined. The plagioclase is partially converted to maskelynite, a shock glass - and an elegantly thin filigree of shock veins courses through the matrix. The presence of this otherworldly ornamentation is consistent with the delivery mechanism of a large asteroid striking the lunar surface and launching material into outer space. This notable offering is the result of a cataclysmic explosion on the Moon, a hard landing on Earth and the winds of the Sahara, and is the most naturally sublime lunar specimen known. 47 x 61 x 41mm (1.75 x 2.5 x 1.66 inches) and 103.37 grams (0.23 pounds).
Provenance: The Macovich Collection, New York City
INTRODUCTION TO LUNAR METEORITES - The following six lots are portions of the Moon authenticated by renowned scientists. Lunar samples are readily identified by their highly specific geological, mineralogical, chemical and radiation signatures. Lunar minerals were formed in a weak gravitational field, absence of water, with no free oxygen, and have been altered through exposure to cosmic radiation. The minerals comprising the Moon's crust are limited. Lunar specimens contain gases originating from the solar wind with isotope ratios that are markedly different than the same gases found on Earth (also a result of cosmic radiation).
When asteroids strike the Moon's surface, chunks of the Moon are launched into space in much the same way that dust is launched into the air when a child dives onto a bed. One merely needs to view the craters of the Moon to imagine the number of asteroids whose impact would have provided sufficient energy to eclipse the Moon's gravitational influence and launch surface material into space.
Less than 0.1% of all meteorites recovered are lunar in origin, with less than 150 pounds of meteorites originating from the Moon known to exist. Lunar meteorites are so scarce, and so difficult to identify, that not one example has ever been found in Europe, or either of the American continents. Every single lunar meteorite recovery to date has been from a desert where such meteorites are more readily identified (including the cold desert of Antarctica, where precipitation is negligible).
Of the 79 distinct lunar meteorites known, 20 were found by scientists searching in Antarctica. Owned by a consortium of countries, not one gram of Antarctic material will ever be available to the private sector. (Nor will the U.S. government ever release a single gram of the 380 kg of Moon rocks recovered by Apollo astronauts.)
Moving onto the fourth largest lunar meteorite known to exist, Dar al Gani (DaG) 1058 - the larger piece of the Moon to grace a public offering.
Estimate: $55,000 - $70,000.
Condition report available upon request.
*Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.
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