back to article Field trip! European Space Agency sends astronauts abroad to learn about rocks

While astronauts are often engineers or scientists, they usually aren’t geologists, which is why the European Space Agency (ESA) is investing in training to make sure its next mission crew can accurately identify rocks and geological features. “Today, some astronauts have scientific backgrounds, although only a very small …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Geologist on the Moon

    The only Apollo astronaut to visit the Moon who was a qualified geologist was Harrison H Schmitt:

    "The Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 17, the final manned lunar landing mission, Harrison H. Schmitt, a geologist, and native New Mexican, is the only scientist to have explored the Moon’s surface."

    It does seem like a good idea that if you are interested in finding out about planetary science and sending people to other worlds that they should have expertise in geology.

    1. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

      Re: Geologist on the Moon

      I guess, at that time, nearly all the astronauts were former military.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Geologist on the Moon

        Yeah, except for Neil Armstrong and Elliot See.

        1. Dom 3

          Re: Geologist on the Moon

          Neil Armstrong and Elliot See were both former military. But unlike the rest they were former military at the time of their missions, allowing NASA to bill them as civilian astronauts.

          Of astronauts, groups 1 and 2 all had test pilot experience. Group 3 had some non test pilots - as experience on military fast jets was now sufficient. Group 4 ("The Scientists") had two (out of six) with no military background, of which Schmitt was the first in space. Of cosmonauts, Tereshkova was the first civilian - at the time of selection. By flight she'd been commissioned.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Geologist on the Moon

      Yeah, when Apollo 14, 19, and 20 were canceled, they bumped Joe Engle for Schmitt on Apollo 18 (17 after the renumbering) so they would finally have a full scientist.

      Now that Gene Cernan has died, he's the last living man to have walked on the Moon.

      1. Semianonymous Megacoward

        Re: Geologist on the Moon

        Buzz Aldrin, David Scott, Charles Duke, and Jack Schmitt all walked on the Moon and are still alive. Four out of twelve.

        1. cookieMonster Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Geologist on the Moon

          In fact, Buzz got married last week or the week before if I remember correctly

  2. nintendoeats

    If the HBO series "From Earth to the Moon" is to be believed, this was done as part of the Apollo missions as well.

    1. Dom 3

      Apollo astronauts *did* receive geological training. I believe with some initial reluctance but if you go here

      and scroll down to 145:41 there's no denying that these two fighter jocks are genuinely excited about

      the rock they've just found.

  3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Forced backronym?

    "Planetary ANalogue Geological and Astrobiological Exercise for Astronauts (Pangaea)"

    Not only is that one of the more forced backronyms I've heard in a while, ANalogue? Really? Yeah, I know it also means "a model" or "simulation", but most of the public will associate that with "old fashioned" technology. It's all digital maaaaan!

    (And yes, I'm fully aware that analogue technology is alive and kicking and has uses where digital just can't compete. (Volume controls being the most obvious example :-) I don't care if it only goes up to 10 or if it reaches 11. I also has to have infinite variability between, not fixed steps which usually don't have a "just right" setting, being either just too low or just too loud)

  4. TDog

    Split second?

    Do rocks etc not presently on earth run that much faster tnan geolocated ones? Perhaps we should be equiping our future, astro, taiko, cosmo, naughts with shotguns and external speakers pre-programmed to shout (in whatever passes for the luminiferous ether) "PULL!", as well. No icon as neither Einstein nor Michaelson Morley.

    Mind you, in very high G wells one could well imagine a scenario where locally they moved like fuck whilst still dawdling to the long way away located external observer.

    1. Christoph

      Re: Split second?

      in very high G wells

      H G Wells?

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