When Sudbury, Ont., was a suitable substitute for the moon
U.S. astronauts travelled to northern Ontario to practice geology on rocks in the area
It was easier for a test pilot to learn the science of geology than for a scientist who studied rocks to learn to fly aircraft.
That's why NASA was training its astronauts in geology by sending them north to study the Sudbury Basin, which was "a classic example of an impact crater."
"Apollo astronauts have visited the Antarctic, Iceland, Mexico and the Arizona lava fields," said reporter Bob Evans, reporting for CBC on July 8, 1971.
By then, they were in Sudbury, Ont.
Learning the landscape
The astronauts, Charles Duke and John Young, were part of the Apollo 16 mission.They later travelled to the moon in April 1972.
"Do you think you've been able to absorb enough of the science?" Evans asked Duke, who was wearing dark sunglasses and a tall cowboy hat.
Duke said the skills demanded of an astronaut had to be "a compromise."
"We devote 30 per cent of our training time right now to science," said Duke. "It would be difficult for a scientist ... devoting more than two-thirds of his time to learn how to fly a vehicle."
As Duke was seen in a vest outfitted with a camera walking along some rock formations, Evans acknowledged that residents of the area "long ago grew tired of jokes about the local landscape looking like the mountains of the moon."