From the Moon to the Oval Office

As homage to the past Apollo Missions and a nod to the upcoming Artemis Program, NASA recently loaned the White House a lunar sample that has been placed in the President’s Oval Office.

February 08, 2021

NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 first stepped foot on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. From Apollo 11 to the end of Apollo 17, NASA completed six crewed missions to the moon and landed a total of twelve astronauts on the lunar surface.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon near the leg of the lunar module Eagle during the Apollo 11 mission. Mission commander Neil Armstrong took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera.

Photo by: NASA

NASA

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the moon near the leg of the lunar module Eagle during the Apollo 11 mission. Mission commander Neil Armstrong took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera.

During Apollo 17, known as the final moon landing of NASA’s Apollo program, NASA astronauts Ronald Evans, Harrison Schmitt, and Eugene Cernan carved out a piece of rock as a sample of the lunar surface from a large boulder at the base of the North Massif in the Taurus-Littrow Valley. A piece of this particular rock is now on display in the Oval Office and holds deep significance for the past and future of human presence on the moon. It is known as “Lunar Sample 76015,143.” Evans, Schmitt, and Cernan were the last NASA astronauts to step foot on the lunar surface, but they will not be the final ones as the Artemis program is working towards landing the next man and the first woman by 2024.

Scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 lunar module pilot, collects lunar rake samples at Station 1 during the mission's first spacewalk at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. This picture was taken by astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander.

Photo by: NASA

NASA

Scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt, Apollo 17 lunar module pilot, collects lunar rake samples at Station 1 during the mission's first spacewalk at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. This picture was taken by astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander.

The moon rock is on loan from the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. It weighs less than a pound and was collected in 1972. The remainder of the sample continues to be used for scientific research. NASA concluded that the moon rock is a 3.9-billion-year-old sample formed during the last large impact event on the nearside of the lunar surface. The one on display contains tiny craters that were formed by micrometeorite impacts from being sandblasted over millions of years.

NASA photo S87-34948 shows sample 76015,143 after being prepared for public display. This portion weighs 333 grams. We are seeing the natural surface. This view was taken from a view point slightly to the left of the prior image. The edge of the larger of two saw cut surfaces is on the left.

Photo by: Charles Meyer/NASA Johnson

Charles Meyer/NASA Johnson

NASA photo S87-34948 shows sample 76015,143 after being prepared for public display. This portion weighs 333 grams. We are seeing the natural surface. This view was taken from a view point slightly to the left of the prior image. The edge of the larger of two saw cut surfaces is on the left.

It’s an out of this world experience for Lunar Sample 76015,143 to be seen in the Oval Office!

Next Up

NASA’s Plan for Returning to the Moon

NASA is planning to land the first woman and next man on the moon in 2024. Through a US government-funded human spaceflight program known as Artemis, there may be human footprints on the south pole region of the lunar surface in the very near future. From understanding the Artemis Program to the Gateway, let’s explore the lunar details.

Fly Me to the Moon and Mars: SpaceX’s Starship and Spaceports

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is developing a reusable transportation system for spaceflight to the Moon, Mars, and beyond our wildest space dreams.

NASA and SpaceX are Going on a Date, and We're All Invited

Save the date--On May 27th, if everything goes as planned, a rocket will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Watch SPACE LAUNCH LIVE: AMERICA RETURNS TO SPACE on Discovery and Science Channel starting at 2P ET.

Looking Down: NASA Astronauts Share Images from Space

From "Space Selfies" and birthday celebrations, to beautiful images of Earth, NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley shared tons content while up at the International Space Station.

Meet the Not-So-Secret Space Airplane

The United States Space Force may have a somewhat silly name, but it's very, very real. And it just launched a semi-secret mission into space.

Large Rocket Debris Impacts Earth Off African Coast

The fourth largest piece of space debris ever re-entered the earth's atmosphere yesterday and made a splash just off the coast of Africa. Narrowly missing some major landmarks in its path, this piece of a rocket could have caused some major damage.

Celebrating 20 Years of Food in Space on the ISS

This year marks the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station. Do you ever wonder what the astronauts have been eating for the past 20 years in zero gravity? Let’s find out!

10 Facts About NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Splashdown

Here's everything you need to know about NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley's return home from the International Space Station on Sunday, August 2.

First Week Complete for Crew-1 Astronauts

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched in a new Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket on November 15, 2020, at 7:27P ET from the NASA Kennedy Launch Complex 39A. After a 27-hour journey, the spacecraft docked with the ISS on November 16, 2020, at 11:01P ET. Let’s see what the astronauts of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission have been up to since their arrival to the station!

Expedition 63 to Return Home on October 21

After 196 days in space aboard the ISS, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Ivan Vagner are coming home! Let’s learn the details of their return to Earth.
Related To: