Earth Stands In For the Moon and Mars

Explorers eager to trek across the Moon’s battered surface or Mars’ dusty plains may be stranded here on Earth but our planet offers an array of locations that, in varying degrees, mimic those otherworldly landscapes. Scientists and engineers view these lookalike places as training grounds for future expeditions. They are called analog sites. By networking analog sites, early shakeout of equipment — from space suits and land rovers to drills and robotic devices — becomes viable and can be rated ready for flight. Habitat construction ideas and science-gathering tasks and procedures could be practiced. Even appraising the team spirit of individuals laboring in dangerous and remote environments is feasible.