Otherwise referred to as a lunar meteorite, moon rocks are most typically retrieved from space missions carried out by NASA’s astronauts and brought back to Earth for sampling.
However, does that mean that you’re not allowed to own a piece of moon rock yourself if you happened to come across some?
Well, even many people tend to believe that owning a piece of rock taken from the moon’s surface is illegal, mainly due to the fact that astronaut-retrieved rock is typically reserved for use by NASA and other classified bodies - that doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t allowed to own a piece under some circumstances.
Just think about it: hundreds of thousands of meteorites crash into planet earth each and every year, which means that pieces of lunar meteorite (or moon rock) end up on our earth, and they can land just about anywhere.
This is mainly due to meteorites being thrown from the surface of the moon and into outer space, where some of the floating debris (aka, moon rocks) find themselves getting pulled into Earth’s atmosphere.
Once that happens, the moon rocks are set on fire as they enter the earth’s atmosphere, and are sent hurtling through the atmosphere until the rocks find themselves settled somewhere on planet earth, and like we mentioned earlier- that location can be quite literally anywhere.
In addition to the above, it is also worth keeping in mind that, even though moon rock can theoretically land anywhere, it is most commonly found in places such as North Africa, and that includes the Saharan Desert, too.
So, with that kept in mind, laws in North and Western North Africa (mainly Morocco) are typically consistent with the idea that there are no legal restrictions regarding the ownership of moon rock, and they are often put on the market for civilians to purchase.
However, prior to being given the go-ahead to be sold to the public, the found moon rock usually needs to be tested in a laboratory or similar environment in order to ensure that it is indeed from the moon.
So, to summarise, if a person happened to stumble upon the rock and decided to keep it for themselves, then that person would not be breaking any rules or doing anything wrong - as they found the moon rock themselves by chance.
However, it should be noted that, while this might very well be the case, for the most part, all moon rocks that are found in this way are usually handed to a local authority or organization, where the moon rocks/lunar meteorites can then be taken to a laboratory for further testing. - especially if the finder is unsure of the origin. From that point on, the moon rock will either be kept for sampling or sold.
Are Moon Rocks Illegal To Own?
If you’re interested in owning your own piece of moon rock and have already started researching ways to obtain one of your own, then we’re sure that you’ll have come across plenty of sources claiming that owning a piece of moon rock is illegal.
Now, while that does have some truth to it, there are some instances in which owning a piece of moon rock isn’t illegal - so it’s important to know your limitations regarding ownership of one. Let’s take a closer look below:
As we’re sure that you can already guess, moon rocks are one of the most rare substances on planet earth, and that makes them valuable - both for monetary gain and research purposes.
So, with that being said, in some cases, moon rocks that have been located and identified as coming from the moon can be placed on the market for the public to buy, although it is important to note that they usually go for thousands of dollars!
However, for the most part, if you happened to stumble upon a piece of moon rock that had been pulled in from the earth’s atmosphere and hurtled down into the earth - then there would be no rules preventing you from picking the rock up and taking it home to keep for yourself.
But, as we mentioned a little higher up, there are some instances when owning a moon rock could be seen as being illegal - and that mainly goes for Apollo Moon Rocks.
If you’re already a space fanatic we’re sure that you already know all about Apollo Moon Rocks, however, if you’d like a refresh, then Apollo Moon Rocks are essentially moon rocks that have been retrieved by NASA astronauts to be brought back to earth strictly for research and sampling purposes.
Under laws introduced by the US government, it is illegal to sell or even give these specific classified moon rocks to private citizens for their own use, as they are exclusively intended to be kept on record by NASA.
Why Are Moon Rocks So Valuable?
Interested in grabbing yourself a souvenir from outer space? You’re not the only one!
If you’ve currently got your sights set on owning your very own piece of moonrock, it’s worth keeping in mind that, moonrock is one of the rarest substances on planet earth, which means that it’s extremely hard to come by and, in turn - extremely expensive to buy.
So, in other words, moon rocks are so valuable simply because they do not come from earth - which means that they are not readily available as they are formed on the moon, which is in outer space.
With that being said, when lunar meteorites break from the surface of the moon and are expelled into space (especially given the fact that the moon has a pretty weak gravity field) some pieces of moon rock will then inevitably get caught by the strong gravitational pull of the earth’s atmosphere, and once this happened, will be catapulted down to earth.
Then, in the lucky coincidence that they are located and identified, they might then be put on sale to the public to buy, and they (on average) will be typically sold for around $50,000 per gram.