The moon, you know that big circular shining disc in the sky you see each night? Yeah, that one. It’s filled with little craters and the footprints of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin along with many other astronauts and cosmonauts who managed to land on the moon and go for a moonwalk. But there are actually places on Earth that resembles the moon and you can even go on holiday there. We’re sure if SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have their way we’ll all be going on space vacations in the next twenty to fifty years but until then we can just pretend at this unique location.
Found on the Big Island in the American state of Hawaii, Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano which has been used by NASA to test vehicles meant for space exploration and astronauts alike. The craters that comprise this massive site are very similar to those found on the moon and some of the other geographic features on some not so far away planets. Due to this many astronauts have trained here, including the famous Buzz Aldrin. Because the volcano complex has so many different geographic features such as lava tubes, and changing lava flows which mimic the shifting of sand on the Moon it has been an excellent training ground to get NASA’s elite ready for space travel. The rovers that you have also seen broadcasting back to NASA have also been test driven over Mauna Kea to make sure that they can withstand the various types of terrain found on the Moon and Mars just to name a few of the planets they have managed to land on.
Visiting The Volcano
The complex itself is actually open to the public although there are definitely some high-security areas which are not. The volcano features a hiking trail which will take you right to the top, giving you a breathtaking view and you will feel like you have truly walked on to the Moon. At the top, there is also a visitor’s center from which you can watch the sun go down ad the stars come out and feel for a moment that you are an astronaut. Just be aware that this is a grueling hike and no walk in the park. It will take around 8 hours for you to get to the summit and it will be very hot during the day unless you begin early in the morning which is suggested. But like any great hike, the view is worth it in the end.