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Decades-old photos emerge of Apollo training

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:10 a.m. HST, May 31, 2014

Before Apollo astronauts went to the moon, they went to Hawaii to train on the Big Island's lunar landscapes.

Now, decades-old photos are surfacing of astronauts scooping up Hawaii's soil and riding across volcanic fields in a "moon buggy" vehicle.

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, a Hawaii state agency, is displaying the photos at its Hilo headquarters. Rob Kelso, the agency's executive director, found the images at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Astronauts from Apollo missions 13 through 17 trained in Hawaii as did some back up crews, Kelso said.

Some training was on Mauna Kea volcano, where glacial runoff crushed and refined rock into powder. Astronauts also trained on recent lava flows.

Today, robots are tested on the Big Island for moon and Mars missions.

In recent years, engineers have tested technology to pull oxygen out of the island's dirt, which is volcanic basalt like the Martian and lunar soil. Future missions could use this technology to extract oxygen from the land instead of taking it along. The oxygen could be used for breathing, to make fuel or for other purposes.

Kelso said scientists are also interested in testing robots at the Big Island's lava tubes and lava tube skylight holes, which resemble similar formations recently spotted in high-definition images taken by satellites orbiting the moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars.

Lava tubes are tunnels made when lava forms a solid roof after flowing steadily in a confined area for hours. Skylight holes are formed when part of the tube breaks.

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lowtone123 wrote:
Apparently these photos didn't emerge enough for SA to post them here. Would have been nice to see them. After all isn't photos supposed to be seen and not heard?
on May 31,2014 | 09:00AM
lowtone123 wrote:
Thanks for the photos.
on May 31,2014 | 09:28AM
HanabataDays wrote:
I remember back when they were doing that training. They got a very decent simulation of moon terrain, and riding on a bedframe. Outside of that, the ride characteristics of their "lava rover" would've been quite different from the real "moon rover" with its wire mesh wheels and very low unsprung weight. Whereas, these wheels look like they came straight off a VW Bug of that era.
on May 31,2014 | 03:25PM
HanabataDays wrote:
Would add, before they start thinking about sending NASA robots into lava tubes, they better get the tube(s) vetted and approved by specialists in archaeology and ecology. There's a lot more lava flats on the Big Island than accessible lava tubes, and many tubes have fragile ecosystems and possible artifacts including maybe even iwi.
on May 31,2014 | 03:31PM
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