Cinder Lake Crater Field – Flagstaff, Arizona - Atlas Obscura
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Flagstaff, Arizona

Cinder Lake Crater Field

NASA used this site to fake the moon landing before actually sending people to the moon. 

Before the first astronauts ever made it to the moon, they had to have somewhere to practice and thus the Cinder Lake Crater Field was constructed. 

Chosen for its porous volcanic gravel, the former volcano provided a more than suitable analogue for moon rock. However to accurately simulate the surface of the moon, scientists mapped a portion of the satellite’s craters and proceeded to create an exact replica of the pothole field in Cinder Lake. Using hundreds of pounds of dynamite, NASA scientists created an identical field of craters in a carefully ordered series of blasts. Once the fake moon field was constructed, the astronauts were free to try out their lunar rovers and other equipment from the safety of Earth’s gravity.

Remnants of the craters still remain today, although many of them have been been filled in and softened into divots by natural erosion and weathering. In addition to the natural deterioration, the field is a popular spot for four-wheelers which contribute to the destruction of this historically significant area.  

Know Before You Go

Head northeast from Flagstaff on US-89 and then turn right (east) on Forest Service Rd 776 towards Cinder Lake

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