Can you believe it’s been 50 years since we landed on the moon?
Half a billion people were glued to their television sets to watch. National media has been celebrating all week long with special reports, and this weekend, Craters of the Moon is putting on a party. Why? Because in 1969, before the astronauts launched into space, they came to Craters of the Moon for training.
“They didn’t drive around in moon buggies and they didn’t put on their space suits,” says Chief Ranger Ted Stout. “They came here to learn about geology.”
Ted Stout has been Chief Ranger for 15 years. He’s studied the astronaut’s visit, and says it was imperative they study the volcanic rocks to know which ones to bring back home.
“These guys were test pilots. They didn’t know anything about rocks,” says Stout. “They had limited payload so they had to pick out good rocks to bring home, and they brought home quite a few that scientists are still studying to this day.”
Saturday at Craters will be very educational. From early morning to dark, there will be opportunities to hear from a current astronaut, listen to programs and look at the moon through powerful telescopes.
There is an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle. What’s most exciting about Craters is the fact scientists still come to the monument on regular basis to study the volcanic features.
“We just finished a five year project,” says Stout.
Turns out the rocks at Craters are just like the rocks on the Moon and Mars.
“The lava rocks we have, they’re similar to Martian lava rocks,” explains Stout. “They have similar properties. So they’re looking for specific minerals they found in our cave which they’ve also found on Mars. They’re wondering if there’s a microbial trigger that produces these. If they can prove that, maybe they have the same bug on Mars. Might be a backdoor to prove there’s life on Mars.”
They’re also studying the lava tubes at Craters of the Moon because the same type tubes exist on the Moon and Mars. They could prove to be a refuge for the astronauts. Wouldn’t that be something?
There’s limited parking at Craters of the Moon, so if you go to the big anniversary party this Saturday, be prepared to walk a bit. You might not be able to park right next to the presentations.
You are invited to a slew of events on Saturday, July 20 at Craters of the Moon.
Robert Limbert Visitor Center theater: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (There is limited seating available in the theater. Sign-up sheets for the various events will be available at the visitor center information desk beginning at 8 a.m.) 9:30 a.m.: Presentation and book signing by “Moonscape” author Julie Weston. “Moonscape” is the latest in a historic-mystery novel series set in central Idaho. 11 a.m.: Presentation and book signing by “The Flows” author Roger Boe . This new book explores the hidden wonders of Craters of the Moon through the poetry of Will Peterson and Roger Boe’s photography. 1 p.m.: Presentation of PBS American Experience film “Chasing the Moon” about the Apollo 11 moon landing, and a short presentation about the astronauts in Idaho, which is part of the “Idaho Experience” series. 3 p.m.: Presentation by astronaut John Phillips detailing his experiences on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. 5 p.m.: STEM activities for youth, led by retired Park Ranger/NASA educator, Donald Scott (Visitor Center Patio) Solar viewing on the visitor center patio throughout the day. Lava Flow Campground amphitheater: 8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (Parking for these events will only be available in the visitor center or North Crater Flow parking lots. Both locations are about a quarter-mile walk to the amphitheater. People with accessibility needs may be shuttled to the amphitheater sidewalk.) 8 p.m.: Kids can earn a “Lunar Ranger” badge by participating in fun Ranger-led activities. 8:30-9:15 p.m.: Enjoy the other-worldly music of Boise band Mageñtto 9:30 p.m.: Presentation by astronaut John Phillips detailing his experiences on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. 10:30 p.m.: View the lunar surface through a telescope with the Astro-Ranger Molly.
Also, here are the dates and times for The Apollo Chronicles- 4 Part Miniseries.