Preparing for Artemis: Lunar and Planetary Institute Unveils Extensive Astronaut Training Guide
Washington, D.C. and Houston, TX — February 9, 2024. In anticipation of NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration missions, the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) proudly unveils a timely electronic resource, Astronaut Training for Operations in Impact-Cratered Terrains. Authored by Universities Space Research Association’s Principal Scientist Dr. David Kring at the LPI, this extensive 570-page volume is designed to equip astronauts and their supporting teams on Earth with the essential knowledge and skills needed to navigate and work effectively in the challenging lunar south pole environment.
Drawing on valuable insights from Apollo- and Constellation-era training in collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Center, the resource is deemed crucial given the impact-cratered nature of the entire Artemis exploration zone.
According to Dr. G. Jeffrey Taylor, Professor Emeritus, University of Hawai’i, “Since any landing site on the lunar surface has been affected by impact cratering, it is essential that astronauts and the next generation of lunar scientists be trained in ways to unravel the wealth of information recorded by impact deposits. David Kring’s book is essential reading for all present and future explorers of the lunar surface.”
The newly released volume details the contributions the LPI has made to astronaut training and, specifically, training related to impact-cratered terrains. The in-depth training has involved classroom and laboratory exercises in Houston, followed by field-based training at Meteor Crater, and outlines how other geologic settings, such as Texas’ Sierra Madera impact structure and Nevada’s explosion craters, can further enhance training. Those activities were carefully designed to illustrate the linkage between field observations, good sample selection, and significant scientific outcomes when samples are returned for ground-based analyses. David Kring emphasized the significance, stating “The best and most advanced capability that we can deploy on the lunar surface is a well-trained astronaut.”
The LPI’s extensive portfolio encompasses numerous atlases, computer simulations, illustrations, and other resources to support astronaut training. Following historical practice, those resources were then distributed to the entire academic community, so that a lunar exploration program can be supported by a diverse and well-informed science team. LPI and its university partners have published over a dozen analyses of Artemis landing sites and, thus, have the geological experience to tailor training for future crews and supporting teams.
David Kring, a distinguished field geologist and lunar sample analyst, is well known for announcing the discovery of the dinosaur-killing Chicxulub impact site at the NASA Johnson Space Center in 1991. Kring assumed responsibilities at Meteor Crater, a key astronaut training site, after the Apollo 11 and 12 geology team leader, Gene Shoemaker, died in 1997. He has led the multi-institutional Center for Lunar Science and Exploration since 2008. As Jeff Taylor notes, “David Kring is a worthy successor to Gene Shoemaker, one of the pioneers in the field of geologic studies of impact craters and in the training of astronauts in the field of geology.”
The complete volume and individual chapter downloads are available on the LPI website. For more information, visit https://www.lpi.usra.edu/publications/books/astronaut_training_impactcraters/.
About The Lunar and Planetary Institute
The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), operated by Universities Space Research Association, was established during the Apollo program in 1968 to foster international collaboration and to serve as a repository for information gathered during the early years of the space program. Today, the LPI is an intellectual leader in lunar and planetary science. The Institute serves as a scientific forum attracting world-class visiting scientists, postdoctoral fellows, students, and resident experts; supports and serves the research community through newsletters, meetings, and other activities; collects and disseminates planetary data while facilitating the community's access to NASA astromaterials samples and facilities; engages and excites the public about space science and invests in the development of future generations of scientists. The research carried out at the LPI supports NASA's efforts to explore the solar system. More information about LPI is available at www.lpi.usra.edu.
Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology, and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities and conducts other major research and educational programs. It engages the university community of 117 universities, employs in-house scientific leadership, offers innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about USRA is available at www.usra.edu.