In December 2019, approximately 400 kilometers from Timbuktu — a clutch of unusual dark stones was discovered in the wadi of Tisserlitine. Forty-six stones were collected; 44 of them were extremely small with a total weight under 4 kg. Of the two remaining stones, the second largest weighed about the same as the 44 smaller rocks and the mass of the largest was ten times greater: 40.026 kg (88 lbs). Scientific analysis revealed that every one of these rocks was among the rarest substances on Earth: pieces of the Moon. They were delivered to Earth after being blasted off the lunar surface after the impact of an asteroid or comet. The 40kg rock was the second largest piece of the Moon on Earth —nearly four times larger than the largest Moon rock returned to Earth by an Apollo mission.

Less than 750 kg of lunar meteorites are known to exist. All would fit within five large foot lockers and a significant portion of these rocks is controlled by governmental institutions. While Apollo astronauts returned with 382 kg of Moon rocks, not one milligram of this material is available for private ownership.

Scientists identify Moon rocks by their specific textural, mineralogical, chemical and isotopic signatures. Many of the common minerals found on Earth’s surface are rare or absent on the Moon and some lunar minerals are unknown on Earth. In addition, Moon rocks contain gases captured from the solar wind with isotope ratios very different from those same gases on Earth.

The research scientist who analyzed these samples, Dr. Anthony Irving, is the world’s most renowned classifier of meteorites from the Moon and Mars.

Because lunar samples are extremely uncommon, and large lunar samples exceedingly so, it was decided to subdivide the largest mass into seven slabs primarily for museum distribution. These slices are handily the largest cut and polished samples of lunar material that exists: the surface area of these specimens is more than twice that of any previously existing slice of a Moon rock.

As a result of the ongoing pulverization that occurred on the Moon’s surface from asteroid and comet bombardment, different degrees of brecciation and melting are seen in lunar samples. Now offered is a novel presentation — no other lunar samples look quite like this meteorite; the relatively high degree of impact melting as evidenced by its monochromatic homogeneity fits into a gap of presentations. This breccia is composed of mineral clasts of anorthite, olivine, pigeonite, subcalcic augite, augite and orthopyroxene, plus sparse lithic clasts of spinel troctolite, set in a fine-grained microvesicular matrix containing accessory altered kamacite, troilite, taenite and pentlandite.

The softly trapezoidal, oblong slab is delimited by a rim of its external surface. The face of the cut surface is polished. The matrix is a palette of grays and charcoals with the signature of most lunar specimens — white anorthositic clasts — peppered throughout. A galaxy of other clasts and inclusions, most rounded and some angular, are suspended in impact melt, resulting in a distinct matrix. Venting and divots characteristic of the material are in evidence. Also seen are tiny flecks of metal derived from an impacting meteorite, one of many bodies that slammed into the Moon, fragmenting, melting and mixing surface debris before one such impactor blasted this Moon rock to Earth. Cut from the second largest lunar sample on Earth, this is the fourth largest cut and polished slice of the Moon. Modern cutting and polishing.

Christie's would like to thank Dr. Alan E. Rubin at the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles for his assistance in preparing this catalogue.

The analysis of this meteorite was led by Dr. Anthony Irving, whose findings underwent peer review by the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society. The analysis and classification was published in the 109th edition of the Meteoritical Bulletin — the official registry of meteorites.

415 x 352 x 9mm (16.33 x 14 x 0.33 inches) and 1.9934 kg (4.33 lbs)
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