Image of the Week - Moon Craters in Arizona

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Detailed Description

Before landing on the surface of the moon in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin needed a training ground that matched their destination's cratered surface.

In the U.S., that turned out to be northern Arizona. Starting in 1967, the U.S. Geological Survey used hundreds of pounds of dynamite to blast holes into the surface of ancient lava fields south of Sunset Crater near Flagstaff. The first Cinder Lake crater field was designed to mimic the Sea of Tranquility, the lunar surface on which the astronauts would land. A second crater field was created in July of 1968. Its 380 craters have lost contours to time but the pock marks are still apparent in aerial shots of the area which is now used by offroad vehicles.

Apollo astronauts would continue to train in the Flagstaff area for years after the first moon landing.

Details

Image Dimensions: 1920 x 1080

Date Taken:

Length: 00:01:20

Location Taken: US

Video Credits

John Hult - Writer, Voiceover
USGS Astrogeology, Film Documentation Unit - archival footage
NASA Visible Earth, "Blue Marble" - Arizona context imagery
NASA & USGS - archival photographs
earthexplorer.usgs.gov - Flagstaff context imagery (L8, 7/5/2019, path 37, row 35)

 

Transcript

Before landing on the surface of the moon in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin needed a training ground that matched their destination's cratered surface.

(Fire!)

In the U.S., that turned out to be northern Arizona. Starting in 1967, the U.S. Geological Survey used hundreds of pounds of dynamite to blast holes into the surface of ancient lava fields south of Sunset Crater near Flagstaff. The first Cinder Lake crater field was designed to mimic the Sea of Tranquility, the lunar surface on which the astronauts would land. A second crater field was created in July of 1968. Its 380 craters have lost contours to time but the pock marks are still apparent in aerial shots of the area which is now used by offroad vehicles.

The size and location of each of the 426 craters have been reproduced with remarkable accuracy. This is the Orbiter photograph of the lunar surface. And this is an aerial photograph of the new crater field. 

Apollo astronauts would continue to train in the Flagstaff area for years after the first moon landing.