In the distance, we could see an expansive black lava flow and, behind it, there was an ancient volcanic crater. As we passed over the lave flow, the NASA lunar simulation site came into view. It was much more involved than we had anticipated. We landed at a specially marked location near the work site. NASA PR officials then borrowed our helicopter while we took a tour of their test site.
Our guide was NASA senior engineer Dr. Scott Howe. Near where we landed was the lab module. Inside, there were various activities going on. One technician was arranging the medical equipment, including an operating table. Another was working on the ore analysis equipment, while a third was inventorying the clothing boxes. The module also constained a small hydroponic garden.
The site near Cameron AZ had been chosen because its physical features are similar to those on the moon. The 100-man NASA operation was in the process of going through a 2-week lunar simulation, complete with astromauts, geologists, etc. For example, on the side of the lava flow, an astronaut and a geologist were collecting rock samples.
Across the gravel road from the lab module was a lunar rover. There were two being tested at the site. While we were checking out the lunar rover, the helicopter returned and we headed to back to Utah and the Navajo Reservation, with Dr. Scott Howe in tow.
One of the reasons I’m very interested in NASA’s program is because many outerspace problems are similar to those of Navajos living in very isolated arid locations: water supply, water treatment, water reuse, water conservation, hi-tech gardening, efficient construction methods, efficient temperature control, etc. Hopefully, some of the things NASA learns from space can be applied in the Navajo Nation.