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Come tour NASA Mission Control: Community Day on June 16 to Highlight NASA/Idaho State University research at Craters of the Moon, features family activities

June 6, 2016

Photo of six ISU and NASA researchers standing on a ridge of lava rock with blue sky in background.

Staff from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Park Service and Idaho State University will host a community day for the public and media on June 16 in Arco and at Craters of the Moon National Monument to highlight research taking place at the park.

Special activities, listed in detail below, for the public and news media will include tours of the Mobile Mission Command Center, demonstrations, presentations and opportunities to talk with NASA and ISU science team members and NPS staff. The community day will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. at Bottolfsen Park in Arco and from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Robert Limbert Visitor Center at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

Two NASA research teams, the Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration (FINESSE) and Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains (BASALT) teams will conduct research at Craters of the Moon National Monument and preserve this summer. The FINESSE and BASALT teams are working with ISU researchers and are led by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. These science-driven exploration programs are focused on generating new and cutting-edge scientific, operational and technological capabilities to enable and inform the next generation of human-robotic planetary exploration of  planetary bodies including our moon, Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos, Mars, and near-Earth asteroids.

World-class researchers, planetary scientists, and experts in robotics and exploration will study the formation of volcanoes, evolution of magma chambers and the formation of multiple lava flow types, as well as the evolution and entrapment of volatile chemicals and habitability. The team will utilize samples on Earth to study the geology, chemistry, and biology of features associated with volcanic processes. Additionally, NASA is collaborating with the Idaho Space Grant Consortium to bring teachers into the field to work side-by-side with NASA scientists.

The NPS and NASA have a proud legacy of working together at Craters of the Moon beginning with the 1969 visit by Apollo astronauts…

“Craters of the Moon National Monument has been a part of NASA’s research and exploration efforts since the Apollo missions and what’s so exciting is that this incredible environment is as relevant and scientifically important today as it was 50 years ago," says Darlene Lim, the principal investigator for BASALT. "We are here to figure out how best to support human and robotics missions to the moon, and Mars, and how to enable these future missions to make ground-breaking scientific discoveries as they explore the next frontier," adds Lim, who is also the deputy principal investigator for FINESSE.

The public and media are invited to the following events on Thursday, June 16:

Bottolfsen Park: 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
NASA and ISU scientists will provide tours and demonstrations:

  • Tour the NASA Mobile Mission Command Center
  • Demonstrations: "trashcano" simulated volcanic eruption!, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle simulator, Interplanetary communications demonstration
  • Talk to the experts: Scientists and Park Rangers will be available to answer questions from the public and the media.
  • Food available for purchase

Craters of the Moon Visitor Center: 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Park Rangers and NASA affiliated scientists will provide demonstrations and presentations:

  • View earth's nearest star (a.k.a. the Sun) through a solar scope
  • Earn a Lunar Ranger patch by participating in fun activities. This Ranger-led event will begin at 6 p.m. (45 minutes). 
  • Evening presentation will be provided by the NASA science team beginning at 7 p.m. (45 minutes).


All media are invited to meet with the NASA science team at Bottolfsen Park in Arco, ID from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.  Bottolfsen Park is located off U.S. Highway 20/26/93 in Arco with parking available on Park Road.