A meteorite that is one of the largest pieces on the moon ever put up for sale has been auctioned off from a US auction company based in Boston.
The lunar rock, weighing about 5.5 kg (1
It is thought to have fallen to Earth thousands of years ago.
Its large size and composition are very unusual. It could go up to around $ 500,000 (£ 380,000) when it will be on sale at the RR auction.
It is "one of the most important meteorites available for acquisition anywhere in the world today," said the company.
It consists of six fragments, with the largest piece weighing about 3 kg, and shows "partial fusion crust", a coating created by the heat that burns the rock as it traverses the atmosphere.
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Most of the lunar meteorites found are normally smaller – the size of a nut or a golf ball, said Geoff Notkin, CEO of Aerolite Meteorites, which is selling rock.
"As soon as we saw this, we knew it was extraordinarily unusual," he told the Associated Press (AP). "This is close to a discovery once in a lifetime."
A natural history museum might be the obvious buyer for such an object, but RR says that private collectors might see this as a unique opportunity to own a piece of the Moon.  "This is the only way a private collector can get his hands on a piece of the Moon, because the Moon rocks reported by the astronauts are owned by the US government," said Robert Livingston, vice president executive of RR.  The online auction, which will begin on Thursday, will last until 18 October.