LUNAR METEORITES

Lunar Meteorites2019-10-03T22:00:12+00:00

When the Apollo space program commenced in the 1960s, the engineers and astronauts involved could hardly have imagined that their work would have remarkable and far-reaching implications for meteorite science. The challenge, to “land a man on the Moon and [return] him safely to the Earth,” was delivered to a surprised world in late May of 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, six weeks after Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. And just eight years later, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed in the Sea of Tranquility on the surface of our nearest celestial neighbor — the moon. Apollo 11 was the first of six missions that returned lunar material to our Earth, where it was studied by NASA at the Lunar Receiving Center, designed by Dr. Elbert King, himself an authority on meteorites.

If you look at the moon through a telescope, you will immediately notice that much of its surface is covered by craters. Some of these may be volcanic in origin, but many or most are meteorite craters and they were made when cosmic debris from elsewhere — most likely the asteroid belt — crashed into the moon. When the composition of a lunar meteorite that has been found on Earth is analyzed in the laboratory, it is clearly seen to be a match for specimens transported to Earth by the Apollo astronauts. More remarkable than that, even, is the fact that some lunar meteorites can be paired with a particular part of our nearest neighbor, meaning we can tell not just that they came from the moon, but also which part of the moon.

While it is illegal for private collectors to own Apollo return samples, it is entirely legal to own lunar meteorites. These specimens have been analyzed and authenticated by leading meteorite scientists and are, without a shadow of a doubt, authentic and legitimate geological examples of our nearest celestial neighbor.

NWA 6950

Lunar, Gabbro

Northwest Africa 6950 is the 6,950th meteorite to be classified from the arid deserts regions of the Sahara Desert. The total known weight of this spectacular meteorite is 1,649 grams, one single yellowish-green stone partially covered in fusion crust. This piece has shock veins, which are caused by impacts which produce pressure, which heats, melts, and deforms the rock.

NWA 8022

Lunar, Feldspathic Breccia, Found in Northwest Africa 2013

Only one 1,226 gram stone of this noteworthy material was found. Lunar meteorites arrive on our planet after material is ejected from the surface of the moon during a impact (by a meteorite!). The surface of the moon is covered in a layer of fragmented and unconsolidated material, or regolith, formed during meteorite impacts. NWA 8022 is composed of fused feldspathic pieces of this regolith. We have just a small amount of this material.

NWA 8277

Lunar, Found in Northwest Africa, 2013

Lunar meteorite NWA 8277 was a small single stone weighing only 773 grams, a breccia with distinct clasts and multiple lithologies. We are fortunate to have a few slices of this rare material available.

NWA 8687

Lunar, Troctolite, Found in Northwest Africa, 2014

Five smooth pieces of this amazing troctolite were all of this rare material that was found! Take home a piece from our nearest celestial neighbor. 

NWA 11228

Lunar, feldspathic breccia, Found in Northwest Africa, 2017

It is a feldspathic breccia and has been officially and unequivocally identified as a lunar meteorite by the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Lunar meteorites are known to be from the moon because of their close geologic match to Apollo return samples.

These specimens are paired with 11228, there was a low total known weight when classified.

NWA 11303

Lunar, feldspathic breccia, Found in Northwest Africa, 2017

These extraordinary visitors-from-outer space traveled 238,900 miles from the surface of the moon and landed in Tindouf, Algeria. The fragments found are weathered and coated by pale reddish-brown material, acquired from their time spent on Earth’s surface. The fresh interiors of the largest fragments exhibit white to beige clasts in a dark gray, fine-grained matrix. Marvelous!

NWA 11474

Lunar Feldspathic Breccia, Found in Northwest Africa 2017

Northwest Africa (NWA) 11303, an actual fragment of our own moon, is one of the most visually appealing lunar meteorites known to science. Laboratory-polished faces reveal a variegated wealth of clasts of varying sizes and colors, clearly demonstrating the brecciated nature of this lunar regolith. These elegant and meticulously-finished slices were prepared by one of the leading experts in the business — a prepartor with such high standards that he built his own saw! And close examination will reveal something extremely unusual — metallic inclusions. The lab noted both the abundance of these nickel-iron flecks, which are not normally visible in lunar meteorites, along with the extreme hardness of the rock which, therefore, lends itself to an exceptional high polish.

Lunar meteorites often display a monontonous or homogenous interior with a somewhat uniform color and texture, but the unusual brecciated, lively interior of NWA 11303 is fascinating to behold. A feldspathic breccia, its fragmented texture is partially the result of bombardment of the moon’s surface by other meteorites, over an enormous span of time.

(Paired)

Laboratory Prepared Slices

Fragments

NWA 11788

Lunar Feldspathic Breccia, Found in Northwest Africa 2017

Acquired from the finder in 2017 in Africa, the lunar meteorite Northwest Africa (NWA) 11788 was sent to the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico for analysis and classification. The “Meteoritical Bulletin” describes it as “a finely fragmental breccia with white feldspathic clasts set in a dark gray ground mass with metal flecks and minor vesiculation appearing throughout.” Note its dark gray, almost black matrix, punctuated by clasts of varying size and color.

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