Astronaut set to explore possible Arctic meteorite crater
Published Friday, June 29, 2012 9:19AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 29, 2012 11:11PM EDT
Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen will brave remote arctic conditions to explore a possible meteorite crash site, an expedition he says is good training for future space missions.
“Being put in some irregular circumstances where you’re disconnected from society and some of the safety that it provides, it’s sort of like going into space,” Hansen said Friday during an interview with CTV’s Canada AM.
The 36-year-old will join a team of scientists to explore the crater site on Victoria Island, which lies north of the Nunavut-Northwest Territories border.
There, he’ll study a suspected crater that was discovered in 2010 and remains completely unexplored.
Prior to the Apollo missions, astronauts studied one of the world’s largest meteorite impact sites in Sudbury to prepare themselves for what they could expect on the moon.
Hansen said crater formation will play a significant role in the research that takes place during future space missions.
“The moon, asteroids and Mars, they’re like time capsules for our solar system. We can learn a lot from them,” Hansen said. “But we don’t really understand the catering process.”
Hansen will join Dr. Gordon Osinski and his research team in the Arctic. The team’s first goal is to confirm if what they’re studying is in fact a meteorite impact site.
Osinski has 13 Arctic field expeditions under his belt and he’s been studying craters on earth to try and understand how they form on the moon, and what they reveal about the history of our solar system.
“I’ll be getting to watch a master unravel the puzzle for the first time,” said Hansen, who holds a Bachelor of Science in space science and a Master of Science in physics from the Royal Military College.
While he has a keen interest in geology today, Hansen said that wasn’t always the case.
“Growing up on a farm I spent a good part of the summer kicking rocks out of fields so they didn’t destroy the machinery,” he said.
Hansen was introduced to geology in the astronaut training program.
“The more I learn about it the more I realize it’s extraordinarily fascinating and the more we learn the more we realize we don’t know.”
Hansen, a father of three, was selected in May 2009 as one of two members of the third Canadian Astronaut selection. Before joining the space program, he was CF-18 fighter pilot.
Hansen graduated from Astronaut Candidate Training in 2011 and has been assigned as crew support astronaut for the 34th expedition to the International Space Station, set to launch November 2012.
Hansen will be tweeting from Victoria Island.