Moon Dust collected by U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong is expected to fetch up to $4 million at an auction to be held in New York City next week, Reuters reported this week. The bag that he used to bring back lunar samples from his first moon journey back to Earth will be auctioned along with other space memorabilia. The auction will take place at the well-known auction house Sotheby on Thursday, July 20. The ordinary looking moon dust bag is valued between $2 million to $4 million.

Moon dust auction to take place in New York City

Apart from the moon dust auction, the gathering will also feature a spacesuit that was worn by astronaut Gus Grissom, the Apollo 13 flight plan annotated by its crew, as well as some photographs NASA took of the moon.

The much-awaited auction will mark the 48th anniversary of the first lunar landing and the organizers are hoping for a large crowd to mark the occassion. Vice president and senior specialist at Sotheby's, Cassandra Hatton stated that space is one of the few things that cannot be aligned culturally, linguistically, or religiously. It is one place where all can stake their claim and no one would be wrong.

Finding a bag of moon dust

For a year, the bag in which Armstrong carried the moon dust back on Earth sat abandoned in a box unidentified at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The bag measures 12 inches by 8.5 inches and carries the label "Lunar Sample Return.” It was brought back to Earth by the Apollo 11 crew back in July 1969. The bag eventually surfaced in a garage that belonged to Max Ary, the manager of a Kansas museum.

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According to court recordings, Ary was charged with theft of the bag in 2014, USA Today reported.

On its discovery, the bag was seized from the garage by the U.S. Marshals Service. The bag previously was put up for auction three times; however, it failed to draw any interested buyers ready to bid for it. Ultimately, it was bought by Nancy Lee Carlson, a Chicago-based attorney in 2015 for $995. After getting the memorabilia, Carlson sent it to NASA to verify the authenticity of the bag.

During the verification, it was revealed that the bag still has traces of moon dust on it. Upon this discovery, NASA decided to hold back the bag. However, Carlson managed to successfully sue NASA to give her the bag back, and the attention generated from the legal challenge since then has attracted many potential buyers whom Sotheby is attempting to lure into the auction. Later Carlson decided to auction the bag once more.

Whether the bag will have any takers and how much it will manage to generate at the auction remains to be seen. The person who picks up the bag will undoubtedly take good care of it if they pay out millions!