Lunar and Planetary Institute






Black Point Lava Flow, Arizona

The Black Point Lava Flow is part of the San Francisco Volcanic Field near Flagstaff, Arizona. The area was originally identified as a candidate lunar analogue site during the Apollo era. At that time, the east end of the lava flow and the valley of the Little Colorado River were examined for training and simulations of lunar missions. Several explosion craters were blasted out of the top of the lava flow to simulate an impact crater field on the lunar surface. Although the site was abandoned during Apollo in favor of other test sites, it has become a major lunar analogue test site during the early phases of the Constellation Program. Several 1- and 3-day simulations of lunar missions were conducted in October 2008 along the western and southwestern portions of the flow. The site was used again to simulate a 14-day lunar mission in September 2009. In 2010, the site was greatly expanded to the west so that it includes the SP cinder cone and lava flow. Mission simulations in 2010 will utilize two Space Exploration Vehicles (rovers each with 2 crew) and other assets to simulate the operational requirements of a 28-day mission to the Malapert Massif region of the Moon, which is along the margin of the immense South Pole-Aitken Basin, the oldest and largest impact basin on the Moon and possibly the entire Solar System. This web site is an on-line atlas of imagery and text products associated with those simulations. Additional information about this lunar analogue site will be added as it is developed.

ASTER Satellite Imagery

The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) mission is a cooperative effort between NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI). ASTER provides 14-band imagery from visible to thermal infrared wavelengths. It also provides stereo capabilities that can be used to generate digital elevation models. The ASTER instrument is onboard the Terra satellite, which was launched in December 1999. This particular view of the Black Point Lava Flow was captured 26 June 2007 (metadata) and provided by Jim Rice/Arizona State University.

Google Earth® KMZ & KML Files

      2008 - 2009

Oblique Aerial Photographs, B&W

Aerial photographs of the margins of the Black Point Lava Flow were taken by Mary Chapman of the USGS-Flagstaff in support of the September 2008 lunar simulation. Click the [+] for more...

Oblique Aerial Photographs, Color

Aerial photographs of the margins of the Black Point Lava Flow were taken by Mary Chapman of the USGS-Flagstaff in support of the September 2008 lunar simulation. Click the [+] for more...

Space Shuttle & International Space Station Images

Orbital views of the Black Point Lava Flow and surrounding region have been captured by astronauts aboard Space Shuttle (STS) flights and the International Space Station (ISS).  Click the [+] for more details.

Digital Elevation and Slope Models

Traverse Plans

For each simulation of a lunar mission activity, a traverse plan was developed by the science team. This section provides a library of traverse plans approved and implemented in previous tests.


      2008

      2009

NASA Fact Sheets

Official fact sheets describing Lunar Surface Systems (LSS) being tested at Black Point Lava Flow through the Desert Research and Technology Studies (D-RATS) program.

NASA JSC Photographs of D-RATS 2008-2010



October 2008, Day 1 of 3-day-long traverse with Small Pressurized Rover (SPR), Black Point Lava Flow
October 2008, Day 2 of 3-day-long traverse with Small Pressurized Rover (SPR), Black Point Lava Flow
October 2008, Day 3 of 3-day-long traverse with Small Pressurized Rover (SPR), Black Point Lava Flow
October 2008, 1-day-long traverse with an Un-Pressurized Rover (UPR, aka Chariot), Black Point Lava Flow
ISS018-E-25294Large JPG (1.2MB)Medium JPG (~MB)Small JPG (<1MB)
STS090-750-49_sLarge JPG (1.2MB)Medium JPG (~MB)Small JPG (<1MB)
ISS015-E-9691Large JPG (1.2MB)Medium JPG (~MB)Small JPG (<1MB)