Nasa to train astronauts in the Sonoran desert

A series of tests will be carried out in the Biosphere Reserve "El Pinacate," a dormant volcanic area, prior to the multinational expedition to Mars in the 2030s
El Pinacate is the most spectacular and young lava field in North America with extensive fields of dunes in the driest region of the Sonoran desert – Photo: Featured photography
02/01/2018
18:12
Newsroom
Mexico City
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The Mexican Space Agency (AEM), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the University of Sonora (UNISON) will work together to carry out tests in the Biosphere Reserve "El Pinacate," a dormant volcanic area, with the objective of training astronauts for the multinational expedition to Mars in the 2030s.

Since 1972, there has not been space expeditions, and now, 45 years later, space missions are being reactivated with a new challenge: Mars One.

"It is a little-known historical fact that this region, with unique characteristics, in Sonora was selected by NASA as a training spot for astronauts during the Apollo program from 1965 to 1970," disclosed Javier Mendieta Jiménez, General Director of AEM, adding that several groups of astronauts, including Edgar Mitchell and Alan B. Shepard, trained there.

Scientists and specialists return to this area setting up the second great space exploration.

For the first stage of this project, a team integrated by a researcher of the Arizona State University, Phoenix; the dean of the Technological University of Guaymas, Sonora; a researcher of the University of Sonora, Sonora, two postgraduate students at the Geophysics Institute of the UNAM, three specialists of the National Space Society, four members of El Pinacate staff, AEM's director of Science and Technology Dissemination and AEM's E-education and E-disclosure Manager.

El Pinacate, a dormant volcanic area compassing a wide array of volcanic phenomena and geological formations is located on the El Pinacate Shield (Sierra Pinacate). The area reaches around 2000 square kilometers and it has 3 main peaks Pinacate, Carnegie, and Medio.

Overall, it is a complex structure, comprised of extensive black and red lava flows, basaltic (alkaline) in composition. It is the most spectacular and young lava field in North America with extensive fields of dunes in the driest region of the Sonoran desert.

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