Moon Rock or Lunar Rock is a Rock that is found on the Earth’s Moon including lunar material collected during the course of human exploration of the Moon, or Rock that has been ejected naturally from the Moon’s surface (and which has then landed on the Earth as meteorites).
Moon rocks on Earth come from three sources: those collected by the United States Apollo program crewed lunar landings from 1969 to 1972; samples returned by three Soviet Luna programme uncrewed probes in the 1970s; and rocks that were ejected naturally from the lunar surface before falling to Earth as lunar meteorites. The Apollo missions collected 2,200 samples weighing 382 kilograms (842 lb). Three Luna spacecraft returned with 301 grams (10.6 oz) of samples. More than 370 lunar meteorites have been collected on Earth, representing more than 30 different meteorite finds (no falls), with a total mass of over 190 kilograms (420 lb). Some were discovered by scientific teams (such as ANSMET) searching for meteorites in Antarctica, with most of the remainder discovered by collectors in the desert regions of northern Africa and Oman. A moon rock known as “NWA 12691” which weighs 13.5 kilograms (30 lb), was found in the Sahara Desert at the Algerian and Mauritanian borders in January 2017, and later went on sale for $2.5 Million in 2020.
Luna mission sample returns. Mission Sample mass returned Year Luna 16 101 g (3.6 oz) 1970 Luna 20 30 g (1.1 oz) 1972 Luna 24 170 g (6.0 oz) 1976 The Soviet Union attempted, but failed to make crewed lunar landings in the 1970s, but they succeeded in landing three robotic Luna spacecraft with the capability to collect and return small samples to Earth. A combined total of less than half a kilogram of material was returned.
In 1993, three small rock fragments from Luna 16, weighing 200 mg, were sold for US$ 442,500 at Sotheby’s (equivalent to $783,167 in 2019). In 2018, the same three Luna 16 rock fragments sold for US$ 855,000 at Sotheby’s.
Rocks from the Moon have been measured by radiometric dating techniques. They range in age from about 3.16 billion years old for the basaltic samples derived from the lunar maria, up to about 4.44 billion years old for rocks derived from the highlands. Based on the age-dating technique of “crater counting,” the youngest basaltic eruptions are believed to have occurred about 1.2 billion years ago, but scientists do not possess samples of these lavas. In contrast, the oldest ages of rocks from the Earth are between 3.8 and 4.28 billion years old.