Greater than 50 years after astronauts skilled on Central Oregon’s volcanic terrain for the primary moon touchdown, NASA returned to the area to check new spacesuit expertise.
Scientists and engineers spent 12 days in August in areas exterior of Bend as a part of NASA’s Artemis Program, which goals to ship the primary lady and subsequent man to the moon by the top of this decade.
Dr. Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist with the SETI Institute and the Mars Institute, and director of the NASA Haughton-Mars Venture, mentioned he was impressed by the variety of the panorama in Central Oregon, which incorporates lava flows, caves and steep hills.
“What’s extraordinary about Oregon is the mix of issues you will discover in a comparatively restricted vary,” Lee mentioned. “Going to Oregon is a package deal deal.”
Lee and about 9 others concerned within the testing visited the unique NASA coaching places at Lava Butte, Large Obsidian Lava Circulation, Fort Rock, Gap within the Floor and Yapoah Lava Circulation at McKenzie Cross.
The identical places had been used within the mid-Nineteen Sixties previous to the primary lunar touchdown on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Eagle on the moon.
Armstrong and Aldrin had been among the many astronauts who skilled in Central Oregon.
“You may see why they selected it,” Lee mentioned. “In some sense, it appears to be like precisely the way in which it seemed throughout the Apollo program.”
Final month, the testing was centered on new expertise from Collins Aerospace, an organization that has created house fits for NASA for the reason that Apollo missions.
The brand new expertise places electronics inside spacesuits to permit astronauts to test their coronary heart price and site. Beforehand most knowledge was saved in a spiral binder tied to the spacesuit, Lee mentioned.
“In case you are exploring the moon and roving round, you’re going to want greater than the spiral binder,” Lee mentioned.
NASA has been hesitant so as to add electronics to spacesuits, since electronics can catch hearth or begin overheating and fill the swimsuit with smoke. However expertise has superior in recent times, making the built-in electronics extra viable, Lee mentioned.
“Now we’re getting to some extent the place now we have had a long time of stability,” Lee mentioned. “Time has come to begin integrating.”
Along with the unique coaching websites, the analysis group examined the brand new expertise on rugged terrain at Crater Lake Nationwide Park and the Painted Hills at John Day Fossil Beds Nationwide Monument.
The brand new places are mountainous just like the South Pole of the moon, the place NASA plans to focus its newest mission. The Oregon panorama additionally featured caves and steep hills that astronauts will ultimately face throughout future missions to Mars, Lee mentioned.
“We wish to discover the caves on the moon to get able to discover them on Mars,” Lee mentioned.
Lee mentioned he normally assessments tools at a crater on an island within the Arctic, which scientists take into account Mars on Earth. However because of the COVID-19 pandemic, his group was unable to make the Arctic journey the previous two years.
When these plans fell via, Lee was thrilled to have another choice in Central Oregon.
“There are such a lot of issues that may be understood higher by simply being within the discipline and doing the actual factor,” Lee mentioned. “It’s price it.”
— Kyle Spurr, The Bulletin