US President Joe Biden has a new decoration in the Oval Office, and by new, we mean around 3.9 billion years old, of course. Nestled amongst the many busts of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Eleanor Roosevelt, there sits a new decoration, an extremely rare moon rock loaned to the Oval Office by NASA at the request of the Biden Administration.
The historic piece of lunar rock was loaned to the Oval Office as a “symbolic recognition of earlier generations’ ambitions and accomplishments, and support for America’s current Moon to Mars exploration approach,” according to NASA.
The moon rock was collected in 1972 during NASA’s last manned mission to the moon on Apollo 17. During the Apollo 17 mission astronauts, Ronald Evans and moonwalkers Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan chipped this sample from a large boulder at the base of the North Massif in the Taurus-Littrow Valley, 3 km from the Lunar Module.
This 332-gram piece of the Moon is a 3.9-billion-year-old sample formed during the ‘last large impact’ event on the nearside of the Moon, the Imbrium Impact Basin, which is 1,145 km in diameter.
The irregular sample surfaces contain tiny craters created as micrometeorite impacts have sand-blasted the rock over millions of years. The flat, sawn sides were created in NASA’s Lunar Curation Laboratory when slices were cut for scientific research.
The rock now rests in a specially designed protective case with a plaque attached to it explaining its long history.