END PIECE OF A LUNAR METEORITE NWA 10178
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END PIECE OF A LUNAR METEORITE NWA 10178

LUNAR TROCTOLITIC GRANULITE SAHARA DESERT, NORTH WEST AFRICA

Details
END PIECE OF A LUNAR METEORITE NWA 10178

Lunar troctolitic granulite
Sahara Desert, North West Africa
The cut face of this Moon rock reveals a filigree of dark-colored shock melt coursing through a fine-grained matrix with glittering maskelynite — an impact glass. On the reverse, the meteorite’s external surface has the same features, but they are less distinct. A desert varnish, the result of being naturally sandblasted by desert winds for generations, provides a lustrous, waxy finish that shrouds the details more readily observed on the cut face.
117 x 99 x 26mm (4½ x 3¾ x 1in.)
543g (1.2lbs)
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

Lot Essay

Rocks from the Moon are among the rarest substances on Earth, and now offered is a piece of the Moon ejected from the lunar surface as a result of an asteroid impact. There are less than 135 kg of lunar meteorites known to exist and a significant fraction is controlled by governmental institutions. While Apollo astronauts returned with 400 kg of Moon rocks, not one milligram is available for private ownership. The amount of the Moon that is not governmentally controlled and available to the private sector might fill a single oversized suitcase. Moon rocks are identified by specific textural, mineralogical, chemical and radiation signatures. Many of the common minerals found on Earth’s surface are rare on the Moon and some lunar minerals are unknown on Earth. In addition, Moon rocks contain gases captured from the solar wind with isotope ratios very different from the same gases found on Earth. As one would expect, many of the Apollo missions samples returned to Earth are nearly identical to lunar meteorites. As for the specimen now offered, unlike most lunar meteorites (which are regolithic or feldspathic breccias), NWA 10178 is a troctolitic granulite; it is much finer-grained than many lunar breccias. NWA 10178 also contains maskelynite; a shock-produced glass formed from plagioclase (a calcium-aluminum silicate mineral) during launch off the lunar surface. The meteorite was classified by Dr. Anthony Irving, among the world’s foremost classifiers of planetary material. This meteorite was recovered by Berber nomads in 2015 from an undisclosed location in the Sahara Desert. The other end portion of this meteorite is in an important private North American collection.

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