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President Joe Biden puts moon rock in the Oval Office, names acting NASA administrator

Apollo 17 - Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility

President Joe Biden made a garnishing choice that won the heart of the space community abuzz: there’s a moon rock in the Oval Office. The Washington Post got a look inside Biden’s new digs.

And one sentence in the article – “A moon rock set on a bookshelf that is intended to remind Americans of the ambition and accomplishments of earlier generations” – has inspired many happy Tweets.“Thank you to @POTUS for putting a @NASA moon rock in the Oval Office – look at what we can do together as a country when we are united,” Ellen Stofan, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, said on Twitter. 

The rock is a sample of ‘Lunar Sample 76015,143’ chipped from the moon during the Apollo 17 mission, the last time NASA sent astronauts to the lunar surface. Collected in 1972, the rock weighs 332 grams and is estimated to be a 3.9 billion-year-old sample formed during the last large impact event on the nearside of the moon. “In a 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 its news release.

It’s been stated that Mars’ rock is to be placed beside the lunar rock, as NASA’s perseverance rover is set to collect samples from Mars, and a future mission could return these samples. “I’m loving how excited my timeline is that there’s a Moon rock in the Oval Office,” said the planetary science Ph.D. student Alexander Kling at Arizona State University.

Surprisingly this isn’t the only space news to come from Biden’s inauguration. He named Steve Jurczyk as NASA’s acting administrator. Jurczyk was previously NASA’s associate administrator, the agency’s highest-ranking civil servant. He will be holding his post until Biden names his replacement, who many guesses could be NASA’s first female administrator.

The agency’s future priorities remain a question mark, as Biden affirmed few statements about his future perspectives for NASA and space more broadly. But the little moon rock gave hope to many seeking a vigorous pursuit of space exploration.

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ARTICLE: PATEL CHAITANYA

SCIENCE/HEALTH EDITOR: KYLE SMITH

PHOTO CREDITS: CNN

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