A crater in Labrador could become a training ground for astronauts
Mistastin crater would be one of the places on Earth that most closely resembles the Moon.
People explore the surroundings of Mistastin Crater, Labrador.
Mistastin crater in Labrador could provide vital information to future astronauts on the Artemis lunar mission, a Canadian expert believes.
Scientists had determined in the mid-1970s that this meteorite crater had lunar properties, but already Apollo astronauts had completed one last mission. By then it was too late for them to take advantage of the place to train.
Professor Gordon Osinski, Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Western Ontario says it is an impact crater.Enlarge image
Discovery Hill, near Mistastin Crater, Labrador.
An impact crater is created when an asteroid or meteorite crashes into Earth approximately 36 million years ago. The shock wave caused it to lose some mass and cause crystallization.
One of the particularities of the crater of Mistastin, points out Professor Osinski, is that it is formed of anorthosite, a reflective pale stone found in lunar lands.
That's why the crater would be one of the best training sites for Artemis astronauts, he says. I wish every astronaut who walks on the Moon in the next few years has visited the impact crater in Labrador because of these attributes.
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In 2025, the Artemis 3 mission is to take astronauts to explore the lunar South Pole for the first time.
The crater, which forms a lake also called Kamestastin, is located on a traditional hunting territory of the Mushuau Innu First Nation.
First Nation member George Rich says scientists will be welcome, as long as they ask permission to be there.
A spokesperson from the Canadian Space Agency indicates that no decision has yet been made regarding astronaut training.
We will be happy to #x27;support such places when the time comes, writes Sarah Berjaoui.
The Apollo astronauts were training in a crater in Arizona, the diameter of which was no more than a kilometer. That of Mistastin extends over 28 kilometers.
In the early 1970s, Apollo 16 and 17 astronauts also trained in Sudbury, Ontario, due to the lack of greenery and the #x27;lunar aspect of the landscape.Enlarge image
Geologist and astronaut Harrison Schmitt, from the Apollo 17 mission, on the Moon on December 13, 1972. Along with Gene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt was the last human being on the Moon.
Cassandra Marion, a science advisor to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, says she has visited the crater six times. For her, it is a landscape of breathtaking beauty.
The crater is on the border of tundra and boreal forest. You can get there by cargo plane since there are two airfields in the area.
The place is peaceful. The rocks are identical to those on the lunar surface, compares Cassandra Marion, but Mistastin stands out in several ways, including the abundance of blueberry plants and a lake dating from the last ice age.
Professor Gordon Osinski has visited the crater twice. According to him, astronauts can be trained there in geology in the field. In particular, we could teach them how to choose samples well in a little explored sector.
This is absolutely crucial, because it's not the astronauts who will be examining the samples when they return to Earth. These are the scientists. So it is very important to make sure that the astronauts will be able to collect this data. It will be necessary to sort through several dozen samples, which ones to choose to allow scientists to answer their questions?View larger
The takeoff of Artemis 1, before dawn on November 16, 2022, is visible from the marina in Merritt Island, Florida. The rocket, which had no crew, circled the Moon.
In September 2021, Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutryk and his NASA colleague Matthew Dominick, who will participate in Artemis, trained in the Mistastin crater to familiarize themselves with rocks they could observe on the Moon.
These stones, often millions of years old, can be recovered from cliffs.
I participate in discussions to return in September with a larger group of Canadian and American astronauts, says Professor Osinski.
Professor Gordon Osinski in 2019 at the CBC studios in London, Ontario.
The theory dominant is that the Moon is formed from debris caused by the collision between a celestial body the size of the planet Mars and the Earth several billion years ago. The molten surface has cooled.
The lighter stones, known as anorthosite, may have risen to the outcrop, he says. They are the ones who gave the Moon its white reflection.
That's why Mistastin is one of the places that most closely resembles the Moon.
For Professor Osinski, this similarity is striking. This is absolutely one of the most remarkable geological places I have been to.