Washington: Vials of moon dust brought back to Earth by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have been rediscovered inside a lab warehouse in California after sitting in storage unnoticed for more than 40 years.
An archivist found the samples last month while he was going over artifacts tucked away at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Fox News reported.
Karen Nelson, who made the surprising discovery, said they have no idea how or when the dust samples ended up in storage.
Nelson found about 20 vials with handwritten labels dated "24 July 1970," packed in a vacuum-sealed glass jar.
An academic paper published in the Proceedings of the Second Lunar Science Conference in 1971, titled "Study of carbon compounds in Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 returned lunar samples" was found along with the jar.
After making the discovery, Nelson contacted officials at the Space Sciences Laboratory.
Nelson then got in touch with NASA officials, who allowed her to open the jar to remove the vials before she returned them to the space agency, according to the statement from Berkeley.
In all, NASA`s moonwalking Apollo astronauts brought 842 pounds of lunar samples back to Earth between 1969 and 1972, and very little of it is thought to be unaccounted for.
Ryan Zeigler, NASA`s Apollo sample curator at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, thinks the rediscovered, roughly 3-gram sample likely ended up in storage as a result of some miscommunication.