An “extremely important” lunar meteorite is up for grabs at an auction center, and it is estimated to be sold for $500,000. What makes lunar meteorites so unique?

‘The Moon Puzzle’

A “highly important, world-class" meteorite is now up for auction at RR Auction, along with other space-related collectibles. Affectionately called “The Moon Puzzle” but unofficially named Buagaba, this unique meteorite is actually comprised of six pieces that fit together like a puzzle, the heaviest of which weighing 2,939 grams and the smallest weighing 144 grams. Together, the entire meteorite weighs nearly 5.5 kilograms (12 lbs) and displays a fusion crust it possibly incurred when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

According to the auctioneers, to their knowledge, there is only one other lunar meteorite that displays a fusion crust, and that is possibly the collection of six LaPaz Icefield stones, all of which have fusion crusts.

Important Meteorite

RR Auction estimates the meteorite to possibly rake in more than $500,000, especially since Buagaba is “unpaired,” making it more desirable and valuable to collectors. This means that unlike other lunar meteorites, Buagaba does not have a “pair” or is not one of two or more fragments from a single meteorite that entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

Another contributing factor to Buagaba’s uniqueness is its largeness at over 5 kilograms (12 lbs), when other lunar meteorite samples average merely a few hundred grams. According to the auctioneers, few, if any museums have lunar meteorite samples of this size, and they describe it as one of the most important meteorite acquisitions in the world today.

Lunar Meteorites

Simply put, lunar meteorites are meteorites that were ejected from the moon and then found on Earth, possibly due to an impact from an asteroid or comet. As meteoroids tend to strike the moon every day, some of the rocks that escape the moon’s surface escape its gravitational influence and are pulled into the gravitational influence of either the Earth or the sun where they may go around its orbit. Through the years, some of the rocks orbiting the Earth and even the sun eventually fall to Earth.

Some of the biggest single lunar meteorites discovered are the Kalahari 009 which weighs 13.5 kilograms (30 lbs), the Northwest Africa (NWA) 5000 at 11.5 kilograms (25 lbs), and the Shisr 162 at 5.5 kilograms (12 lbs). The largest lunar meteorite found so far, however, is the NWA 10309 which weighs 16.5 kilograms (36.4 lbs) and was found in several pieces. As for Buagaba, it is a fairly large lunar meteorite at 5.5 kilograms (12 lbs), and its scientific name NWA 11789 is because it was found in the deserts of Northwest Africa.

Of the meteorites found on Earth, only 0.1 percent come from the moon, as 99.8 percent of meteorites are pieces of asteroids. 

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