A Hawaii state government aerospace agency recently published forgotten photos showing Apollo astronauts training on volcanic terrain in Hawaii for missions to the moon.
Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems Executive Director Rob Kelso discovered several of these old photos after searching NASA’s photo archive at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
The astronauts in these pictures trained on Hawaii’s Big Island for Apollo missions 13 through 17 in the ’60s and ’70s. Because the island’s volcanic basalt terrain matches that of the moon, locations like the Mauna Kea volcano and recent lava flows were ideal for astronaut training.
Apollo 15 Commander Dave Scott and lunar module pilot Jim Irwin train on Hawaii’s Big Island in December, 1970.
The Apollo 15 crew conduct geological training in Apollo Valley on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, in the foreground, trains on the lunar roving vehicle commonly known as the “Moon Buggy” in 1971.
Apollo 14 astronauts Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, Stuart Roost, and an unidentified fourth man train with a Modularized Equipment Transporter (MET), better known by astronauts as the “Rickshaw,” in April 1970.
Apollo 17 crew members Joe Engle and Eugene Cernan scoop up soil samples in April, 1970.
This photo is from February 1967, when NASA selected 19 astronauts for the geology training course on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Apollo 15 Commander Dave Scott in December, 1970.
Two Apollo 15 astronauts undergo their geological training in December, 1970.
An on-board explosion prevented the Apollo 13 mission from reaching the moon, but the crew returned safely to Earth.
Today, scientists test robots on Hawaii’s Big Island for missions to the moon and Mars. In 2012, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity took samples of Mars soil revealing that “the mineralogy of Martian soil is similar to weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii,” according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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