Walk in the footsteps of the Apollo astronauts: A field guide to northern Arizona astronaut training sites
Published:September 04, 2019
R. Greg Vaughan, Kevin Schindler, Jeanne Stevens, Ian Hough, 2019. "Walk in the footsteps of the Apollo astronauts: A field guide to northern Arizona astronaut training sites", Geologic Excursions in Southwestern North America, Philip A. Pearthree
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Every astronaut who walked on the Moon trained in Flagstaff, Arizona. In the early 1960s, scientists at the newly formed United States Geological Survey (USGS) Branch of Astrogeology led this training, teaching geologic principles and field techniques to the astronaut crews. USGS scientists and engineers also developed and tested scientific instrument prototypes, and communication and transportation technologies that would aid in lunar exploration. Astronomers and cartographers based at the USGS and Lowell Observatory, using telescopes at Lowell Observatory and the U.S. Naval Observatory, also played a key role, preparing lunar navigation charts and landing site maps.
This historical and educational field trip will take participants along a historical path to some of the key sites where the Apollo astronauts trained. Field trip participants will see: (1) Grover, the geologic rover simulator on which the Apollo astronauts trained, which is on display at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center; (2) telescopes at Lowell Observatory used to map the lunar surface, as well as some of the original airbrushed maps; (3) the Bonito Lava Flow training area at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument; (4) the Cinder Lake crater field, which was created in 1967 to simulate the lunar landscape for training astronauts and testing equipment; and (5) Meteor Crater, the best-preserved exposed impact crater on Earth.
During this field trip we celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the most remarkable events and most significant achievements in the history of humankind. We hope that the sites we visit will connect participants with the experiences of the astronauts and the excitement and inspiration of the origins of human space exploration. We also hope to communicate the historical significance of these sites, facilitate continued visitation of the sites (e.g., through class field trips), and educate the broader scientific and science education communities about the role that Flagstaff scientists and engineers played in the Apollo expeditions to the Moon.
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Geologic Excursions in Southwestern North America
This volume, prepared as part of the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Phoenix, includes field guides covering aspects of the spectacular geology of southwestern North America. Field guides tackle the geology of the southern Colorado Plateau, from paleoenvironments of Petrified Forest National Park, to Jurassic sand dunes of southern Utah, to the San Francisco Volcanic Field, to awesome Grand Canyon. Appropriately for the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, one trip visits sites in northern Arizona that helped prepare astronauts for their missions. Several guides address aspects of the Proterozoic to Cenozoic tectonic development of the Transition Zone between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range. Exploring the Basin and Range, guides feature Laramide tectonism and ore deposit development, features associated with large-magnitude Cenozoic extensional tectonism, large Miocene volcanic centers in northwestern Arizona, and tectonism and development of the lower Colorado River. Three field guides explore various aspects of northwestern Mexico, including tectonics and ore deposits of Sonora, fauna and paleoenvironments of Colorado River delta deposits, and volcanism in central Baja California. Finally, a guide analyzes anthropogenic earth fissures that have developed in the Phoenix metropolitan area.