Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f92010%252ff11e5205 17f5 4b5e 8127 b5dbac021256.png%252f930x520.png?signature=pwsv1xiez51zoy43fjgs1vdydni=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

A curious, dark moon rock has arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Among busts of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Eleanor Roosevelt, President Joe Biden chose to display a moon rock in his newly redecorated Oval Office. The lunar chunk is on loan from NASA, which keeps vigilant watch over its precious moon rocks.  

The rock is stoically labeled “Lunar Sample 76015,143,” but has a suspenseful, geologically rich history. Two hopping, moonwalking astronauts, Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan, chipped the dark, angular rock from a boulder in 1972 (the last crewed mission to the moon). This part of the moon formed during an ancient collision some 3.9 billion years ago. An object some 150 miles across, or perhaps even larger, slammed into the moon

The dramatic event created an over 711-mile wide plain of now-dried lava, called the Imbrium Impact Basin, on the lunar surface. This basin, also called “Mare Imbrium,” is one of the big dark patches us Earthlings can see on the visible, near-side of the moon. Put another way, it’s the right eye of the “Man in the Moon.” 

Now, a chunk of this once molten lava lays in Joe Biden’s office.

“In symbolic recognition of earlier generations’ ambitions and accomplishments, and support for America’s current Moon to Mars exploration approach, a Moon rock now sits in the Oval Office of the White House,” NASA said in a statement

Lunar Sample 76015,143 now sits in President Joe Biden's Oval Office.

Lunar Sample 76015,143 now sits in President Joe Biden’s Oval Office.

Image: nasa

The location of Mare Imbrium on the near side of the moon.

The location of Mare Imbrium on the near side of the moon.

Image: wikimedia commons / Srbauer

NASA currently has bold plans to return to the moon in 2024, called the Artemis program. On a space exploration calendar, 2024 is a date that’s fast approaching. 

Yet NASA is behind schedule on testing its giant, potentially moon-bound rocket, and also needs to build vital, expensive spacecraft, like a moon lander. A 2024 moon landing is widely seen as “infeasible” by the space industry, reports SpaceNews. But, if Congress grants Artemis enough money for bold lunar exploration, perhaps the first woman will set foot on the moon later this decade.

Leave a Reply