Experience the 50th anniversary of one of humankind’s grandest achievements in setting foot on another world. When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon on July 20, 1969, he at once met the audacious challenge of President John F. Kennedy to land an American safely on the Moon, while turning our species into citizens of the world. Over the ensuing three years, 11 other people walked on and explored the Moon. This was possible only with years of preparation, in which many milestones occurred in the Flagstaff area including astronaut science training, instrument development and lunar mapping.
Immerse yourself in epic Apollo Mission moments at the following sites:
Click on the moon for a zoomable lunar map:
All astronauts who walked on the Moon, including Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Buzz Aldrin, and Flagstaff scientist Jack Schmitt, trained in Flagstaff and northern Arizona at multiple locations.
US Geological Survey (USGS) Branch of Astrogeology scientists worked in Mission Control in Houston during the Apollo Moon flights, helping direct the astronauts' lunar excursions.
Apollo 11 Mission is the first manned lunar landing and Coconino County Superior Court reporters traveled to Mission Control in Houston to transcribe conversations in real time between astronauts and Mission Control personnel.
Using explosives, geologists create a simulated lunar surface in the cinder fields near Sunset Crater, complete with a network of craters modeled after authentic Moon craters. These fields were ideal for training astronauts and testing equipment, including lunar rover vehicle simulators (Moon buggies).
USGS scientists studied the Moon through telescopes at Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University, the US Naval Observatory’s Flagstaff Station, and the USGS telescope built specifically for lunar mapping.
NASA and the USGS test three lunar rover vehicle simulators at Sunset Crater, Merriam Crater and surrounding volcanic features. Two were built in Flagstaff, and one remains on display today at the USGS Astrogeology Science Center.
Artists worked with scientists at Lowell Observatory to create beautifully detailed lunar maps. Much of this work was accomplished by observing the Moon through Lowell telescopes, including the historic 24 inch Clark refractor, which remains in use today for public education.
US Geological Survey Branch of Astrogeology begins operations in Flagstaff, with the purpose of providing lunar mapping and science training for the astronauts destined for the Moon.
USGS astrogeologists created the lunar maps used for selecting landing sites on the Moon. Today, the USGS Astrogeology Science Center supports NASA and other space agencies with planetary mapping for numerous spacecraft missions throughout the solar system.
Activities through 2019:
Tours at Lowell Observatory, United States Geological Survey,
and cinder field training sites
Monthly Lunar Lecture Series featuring presentations highlighting various aspects of the science and cultural impact of the Moon
Enjoy specially crafted lunar-themed menu
options at participating restaurants
Exhibits about astronaut training and lunar mapping
Demonstrations of student-created robotic rovers
Lunar-themed art exhibits