Moon astronauts

January 4, 2015
The view from the Apollo 11

On August 22, 1969, Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, Joe Engle, and Eugene Cernan landed at the airport in Arco. They then proceeded to Craters of the Moon where they explored the lava landscape and learned the basics of volcanic geology in preparation for future trips to the moon.

The astronauts came to Craters of the Moon because they were pilots and not geologists. NASA felt that these were men who might someday be walking on the moon. They would also have the rare opportunity to collect samples of different rocks on the moon. Since only a limited amount of material (850 pounds total in 6 moon landings) could be brought back, it was important that they know enough geology to pick up the most scientifically valuable specimens.

Since much of the moon's surface is covered by volcanic materials, it was very important that they know something about the lava they would encounter. This was the reason that the astronauts visited such places as Hawaii, Iceland, and Craters of the Moon. Visiting these places allowed the astronauts to become educated observers who could describe the surface features they were exploring to geologists back on Earth.

In 1999, Astronauts Cernan, Engle, and Mitchell (Shepard died in 1998) returned to Craters of the Moon to help celebrate the Monument's 75th Anniversary, 30 years after training here. When here they all talked about how beneficial their training here had been and how knowing about what was "in their own backyard" prepared them so well for their missions to the moon.

Source: www.nps.gov
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