Standing next to a large boulder in a Norwegian fjord, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen and NASA’s Kate Rubins take a close look at its geological features during the final session of ESA’s Pangaea training course.
The two astronauts are already accomplished geology students. During this grand rock finale, the duo will hone their lunar rock identification skills and learn more about the history beneath the soil in Lofoten, Norway.
Anorthosites are among their targets. This lunar-like rock is known to be found in the bright, heavily cratered highlands of the Moon, and happens to be abundant and very well preserved in this corner of the world. Glaciers have polished these rocks for millions of years, and they are beautifully exposed to the trained eye today.
As Andreas put it on his Twitter account, he is taking “a short break from preparing for my mission to the International Space Station next year, in order to prepare for future missions to the Moon.”
Kate has also set her sights on the Moon – she is already part of the group of Artemis astronauts and could become the first American woman to land on the lunar surface.
Fittingly, today the United Nations celebrate #MoonDay to mark 53 years since Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon for the first time. A UN resolution declared that the 20 July be observed every year for the “international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.”
This snapshot also pays tribute to the Apollo 17 picture of NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt next to huge, split lunar boulder during his third moonwalk at the Taurus-Littrow landing site.
While Apollo astronauts trained in Minnesota, California and Montana to learn about anorthositic rocks, the European Space Agency found a perfect enclave in the Arctic for complex geological lessons.
The Pangaea team of planetary scientists and instructors believe that equipping astronauts with a geologist’s eye could make a real difference for Moon exploration.