How NASA’s Apollo program turned military test pilots into lunar geologists

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Before the first man landed on the moon, NASA dispatched the Apollo astronauts to this volcanic field to search for these and other faux moon rocks.

The scavenger hunt had great purpose: Anorthosite would likely be among the oldest lunar fragments, geologists believed, and they wanted to make sure the moonwalkers could identify the valuable specimens to bring home.

‘We drilled that into the Apollo 15 crew,’ said Gerald Schaber, a retired geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who helped with the training. ‘That’s the kind of efforts we went to.’

The early Apollo missions were focused on beating the Soviets to the moon to prove America’s technological superiority during a fraught period in the Cold War, and the astronauts who flew them were mostly pilots with little interest in rocks.


Publisher: Los Angeles Times
Date: 2019-07-19T12:00:20.486
Author: Author link
Twitter: @latimes
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