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. 3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM

Keys to Success of Geologic Training of Apollo Astronauts

LOFGREN, Gary E., NASA Johnson Space Center, 2101 Nasa Rd 1, Houston, TX 77058-3607, gary.e.lofgren@nasa.gov

The mission specific geologic training of the Apollo astronauts reached its zenith for Apollo 15, 16, and 17. The spectacular scientific success of these missions is in large part a result of extensive geologic field training. The geologic objectives for these mission were complex. Three EVA's totaled approximately 20 hours on the lunar surface for each mission. What made the training so successful in addition to great teachers and dedicated astronauts is worthy of note for future missions. The training centered around 16-18 field exercises of 2-3 days over 18 months and augmented with limited classroom study. The crews were asked to systematically observe everything from the far distance to the near field and ultimately developed astute observation skills and a geologic vocabulary in common with the geologists in the mission science backroom. Most of the field exercises were focused on specific mission objectives to give the astronauts the background to fully understand the scientific objectives and the rationale to fulfill these objectives. Extensive field debriefings after each traverse between the astronauts and the back room geologists was critical to development of a common geologic vocabulary, but even more important was the development of rapport and building a team with a common goal. Routine tasks such as sample collection and documentation were practiced on all traverses until they became second nature freeing the astronauts to observe their surroundings. Every effort was made to visit terrestrial geologic localities that mimicked the geologic problems at the lunar landing sites as well as possible. The emphasis, however, was on finding good problem-solving exercises and the accessibility of the sites. One of the most important classroom activities was to learn basic lunar rock types by direct observation of Apollo lunar samples in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory.