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Astronaut heads to Arctic for moon mission training

Alaska Dispatch

SpaceRef reports that Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen has joined planetary geologists in Canada's Far North to investigate a possible new meteorite impact crater, in preparation for a possible trip to the moon.

The moon’s surface is littered with meteorite impact craters such as the one suspected on Victoria Island, in Arctic Canada. The last time astronauts studied impact craters was in July 1971, in preparation for the Apollo 16 mission to the moon, according to Spaceref. Hansen is now joining their ranks.

A collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency and Western University’s Center for Planetary Science and Exploration has allowed the hands-on field training on the remote Victoria Island. Research team Director Gordon Osinksi told Western University, "This analogue mission is very much like what a real mission will be like. None of the team has ever been to this site and very little is known about this region of the Arctic."

The team will be investigating the possible crater site from July 1 -12. They’re blogging the experience as they go. On Tuesday, they mused:

“We set down on a mostly flat, sandy area a short walk from the river that carved one of the most impressive channels…We unloaded quickly, confirmed with the pilots the date we wanted them to come back for us (July 12th), and watched them take off for Resolute Bay, leaving us with our equipment, each other, and nothing else but empty, silent tundra for hundreds of kilometers in every direction.  There’s a certain sense of beaming down to the alien planet – but fortunately our spaceman in the red shirt (Jeremy had dressed especially for Canada Day) survived unharmed.”

Hansen is also tweeting the exploration’s progress. On Monday he tweeted: “Midnight ... in the crater on Victoria Island. The sun is just going in circles.”

Learn more from SpaceRef, here.