NASA has loaned a moon rock for display in the White House Oval Office, at the request of the new administration of President Joe Biden.
The request is made “in symbolic recognition of the ambitions and achievements of previous generations, and in support of America’s current exploration approach between the Moon and Mars,” NASA reports.
The object comes from the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and in its case is inscribed as lunar sample 76015,143.
Apollo 17 astronaut Ronald Evans and moonwalkers Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan, the last humans to set foot on the Moon, sampled a large rock at the base of the Massif Norte in the Taurus-Littrow Valley, at 3 kilometers from the Lunar Module, according to the information collected in the display case.
The 332-gram piece of the Moon was collected in 1972 and is a 3.9 billion-year-old sample formed during the last major impact event on the near side of the Moon, the Imbrium Impact Basin, which is 1,145 kilometers in diameter.
The uneven surfaces of the samples contain small craters created when micrometeorite impacts polished the rock over millions of years. The flat, serrated sides were created at NASA’s Lunar Healing Laboratory when sheeting was cut for scientific research.
On the other hand, President Biden has appointed Steve Jurczyk as NASA’s Acting Administrator, pending his final appointment to the agency. Associate administrator since May 2018, Jurczyk has relieved Jim Bridenstine and is one of 34 high-level officials announced by the new administration hours after his inauguration.