Paper No. 166-6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM
GEOSCIENCE TRAINING FOR NASA’S ASTRONAUTS: APOLLO TO THE PRESENT AND BEYOND
Science and field training for NASA’s Astronauts has roots that trace to the Gemini Program. That training curriculum intensified during (and perhaps is best recognized by) the Apollo Program as humans first stepped onto the Moon. Apollo 17 was the culmination of this effort, benefiting from lessons learned during prior flights. The development of the geoscience training during that time initiated an effort that continues today. During the Space Shuttle Program NASA’s Astronauts received several weeks of training that was focused on Earth observations from orbit, much like the orbital remote sensing training during Apollo. Three Astronaut classes have been selected by NASA in the post-Shuttle era, including selections in 2009, 2013, and 2017. With the goals of testing new flight hardware to move humans beyond Low Earth Orbit came a desire to revisit and revamp the geoscience training curriculum. The 2009 class experienced a combination of laboratory and field training at a variety of sites. Recognition that geoscience training involves Astronaut activities in the field led to integration of expeditionary skills, team building, and space flight resource management for the 2013 class. Following reports from the USGS (2005) and NASA (2015) that detailed the Apollo geoscience training from each agency’s perspective, NASA initiated a Special Action Team comprehensive review of the training effort in 2016 (Geological Astronaut Training SAT). The GAT-SAT included participation from NASA, USGS and Academia. The result of the GAT-SAT is a training curriculum that involves laboratory exercises that are more clearly linked with field training objectives. The field activities continue to increase integration with the other primary field training, National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), while providing opportunities for team building outside the typical training locations. The overall goal is to build and evolve a geoscience training program that provides a basic level of science understanding across a diverse group of pilots, engineers and scientists, and to enable informed Earth observations as well as the exploration culture for future human missions to the Moon and Mars. The training remains responsive to the needs of the Astronaut Office and offers keynotes by Apollo colleagues to highlight those experiences.