Remote Labrador sites could become training grounds for astronauts

Scientists discovered in the mid-1970s that Mistastine Crater Labrador It had lunar-like properties, but the last Apollo mission flew and it was too late for astronauts to use the site for training.

But now, as Artemis astronauts prepare for the next lunar mission, one Canadian expert said: remote Craters can provide important insight into what awaits them.

Gordon Osinski, professor of geosciences at Western University in London, Ontario, said Mystastin turned out to be an impact crater in the mid-1970s.

Impact craters are created when an asteroid or meteorite hits the Earth and the shock wave melts and recrystallizes the rock. One of Mystastine’s unique features is that it is formed from plagioclase, a brightly colored, highly reflective stone that makes up most of the moon’s surface, called the lunar highlands.

“It will also be one of the best training locations for Artemis astronauts,” Osinski said. “My dream is that in the next few years every astronaut walking on the moon will visit this impact crater in the north. Labrador because of their attributes.

Canadian astronauts will be part of Artemis II, planned for May 2024. This makes Canada her second country for astronauts to orbit the moon. During the 10-day mission, the crew is expected to set a record for the farthest human travel beyond the far side of the Moon. Artemis III, now scheduled for 2025, is expected to bring humanity back to the surface of the Moon and explore the region near the Moon’s south pole for the first time.

Mistastine, also known as Kamethastine, is located on the traditional hunting grounds of the Mushuau Inu Indigenous people. Innu Nation’s George Rich said scientists are welcome as long as they get the necessary permits to stay on traditional lands.

A spokeswoman for the Canadian Space Agency said no decisions have been made on astronaut training at this time.

“We are happy to support profiles and training opportunities when the time comes,” said Sarah Berjaoui in an email.

Apollo astronauts trained in Meteor Crater, Arizona. Meteor Crater is just over a kilometer across and much smaller than Mistastine, which is 28 kilometers wide. Astronauts for the Apollo 16 and His 17 missions in the early 1970s trained in Sudbury, Ontario. Sudbury lacked greenery and extensive bedrock, giving the crew a feeling of being on the moon.

Cassandra Marion, scientific advisor to the Canadian Air and Space Museum in Ottawa, who has visited Mistastine Crater six times, described the place as “breathtakingly beautiful.” The crater lies on the tundra-taiga boundary and is accessible by cargo planes landing on one of two runways.

She said it was quiet and its rocks resembled those found on the moon.

Osinski, who has visited the crater twice, said Mystastin could be used to train astronauts in field geology and teach them how to record observations in entirely new areas.

“These are obviously important because astronauts don’t see the samples when they come back to Earth,” he said.

“It’s the scientists, so it’s important to make sure they capture all the observations we need.” He said it could be a training ground for

“Faced with dozens of potential samples, how do you choose the best one to bring back to answer the question the scientist has?”

In September 2021, Artemis team members Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutrick and NASA astronaut Matthew Dominick trained in Mistastine Crater to learn how to identify visible rocks on the Moon. Most rocks are accessible from cliffs and outcrops and are millions of years old.

“We are already in talks with a larger group of astronauts from both Canada and the United States about returning home this September,” Osinski said.

A leading theory is that the Moon formed from the debris of a Mars-sized object that collided with Earth billions of years ago. The molten surface cooled over time and a lighter rock known as anorthosite floated to the top, he explained. These rocks make up most of the moon’s surface and give it its white glow, but are rare on Earth. Marion said the area that Artemis hopes to land on the far side of the Moon in the Antarctic region is composed primarily of anorthosite.

With very few exceptions, Mistastine is as close to a lunar landscape as humans can.

According to Osinski, the crater created when an asteroid hit Earth about 36 million years ago is impressive.

“There is a majestic bullseye of this meteorite impact crater. It is without a doubt one of the most unique geological sites I have ever been to.”

canadian press