Rare Meteorites From the Moon, Mars, and More to Go Under the Hammer

CNN Newsource
By CNN Newsource
February 6, 2021Science & Tech
Rare Meteorites From the Moon, Mars, and More to Go Under the Hammer
A meteorite is seen at the Omani Natural History Museum in Muscat, June 15, 2005. (Mohammed Mahjoub/AFP via Getty Images)

For those looking for an accessory a little out of this world, an auction house has an extraordinary offering: meteorites.

In an online sale, Christie’s auction house is presenting a portfolio of celestial objects, including specimens hailing from the moon and Mars, as well as aesthetic iron meteorites and rocks containing gemstones.

Meteorites are small natural objects from space that survive their passage through Earth’s atmosphere and land on the surface—and while some of the specimens are housed in museums, 75 of them are being sold this month as part of “Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar, and Other Rare Meteorites” auction.

Among the collection is a statue composed of 7-billion-year-old stardust—an oriented stone meteorite that found its way to Earth in an unusual way.

Unlike most other meteorites, this one did not tumble or invert as it fell to Earth and instead kept a stable orientation as it dropped, according to Christie’s. Weighing almost 16 lbs., the stone, which is estimated to sell for $50,000-$80,000, has distinctive, diverging markings on the side that faced Earth.

“Everyone has an image in mind of how a meteorite “should look”—an extraterrestrial body frictionally heated while punching through Earth’s atmosphere,” James Hyslop, head of science and natural history at Christie’s said. “Rarely do the objects survive this fiery descent look like that shared ideal seen in this meteorite,” he added.

Also on sale is a cross-section of Martian rock, with bubbles of the planet’s atmosphere trapped inside the slice, estimated at $30,000-$50,000. Auctioneers are also offering a specimen of meteorite hailing from the U.S.’ largest meteorite shower, in Odessa, Texas, which auctioneers expect could fetch $60,000, along with a sphere fashioned from the meteoritic core of a shattered Swedish asteroid, which could sell for $18,000.

But not all of the objects command astronomical prices—some of the otherworldly items have a reserve tag starting at $250 for the auction, which will start on February 9.

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