2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM

Apollo/Constellation Geologic Training Workshop: Reviewing Apollo's Accomplishments and Preparing a New Generation of Geologic Explorers for Lunar Field Geology

EPPLER, Dean B.1, FEUSTEL, Andrew2, ERICKSON, J. Mark3, ADAMS, Byron4, KESZTHELYI, Laszlo P.5, HELPER, Mark A.6, MUEHLBERGER, William R.6, PHINNEY, William7, SNOKE, Art8 and TEWKSBURY, Barbara J.9, (1)Exploration Sciences Office, NASA - Johnson Space Center, 2101 NASA Parkway, Houston, TX 77058, (2)Astronaut Office Johnson Space Center NASA, 2101 NASA Road 1, Houston, TX 77058, (3)Geology Department, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617, (4)School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-140, (5)Astrogeology Team, United States Geological Survey, 2255 N. Gemini Dr, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, (6)Geological Sciences, Univ of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, (7)Retired, Minneapolis, MN, (8)Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, (9)Dept of Geosciences, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY 13323-1218, dean.b.eppler@nasa.gov

With the possibility of a manned lunar return in 2020, NASA is developing a new geologic curriculum to train new astronauts in the tools and techniques of geological exploration. To that end, a workshop was held in Houston in April 2008 to capture the experiences of the Apollo geologic trainers, and to begin drafting this new curriculum. The Apollo astronauts benefited from an extensive, multi-year geologic training program that included, for Apollos 15-17, monthly field training trips to sites with relevant geology beginning as early as 15 months prior to launch. These field trips included simulations of extravehicular activities to rehearse geological field operations. The success of the Apollo crews is noteworthy – despite the fact that only one Apollo crew included a professional geologist, each mission returned critical geologic observations and well documented samples. For lunar return, each crew of four will likely include one geologist; consequently, there will be a need to train all astronauts to make cogent geologic observations and to help plan field exploration. Whereas the Apollo Program benefited from a large budget for field operations, the present program budget will be significantly constrained. The workshop considered using field exercises as the backbone of the training for new astronauts, with classroom activity supporting a series of field excursions. Field activities will be heavily weighted toward problems that utilize geologist-instructors working with at most two crewmembers. Classroom activities will prepare crewmembers for field activities and will utilize strategies consistent with current best practice, with geologic problem recognition and solution as critical capabilities. Field trips will initially rely heavily on geologists teaching crewmembers the critical activities that geologists do in the field. However, as crewmembers gain confidence, the burden will shift to the crewmembers for conducting the primary task of working a particular geological or geophysical problem.