MCVC, Winslow, AZ

Just a few miles outside Winslow, Arizona on Interstate 10 you'll see a somewhat inconspicuous formation on the desert horizon. The cone seems rather low for the typical volcanic mountain crest that prevails in northern Arizona. Within a few hundered meters, it resolves into an immense pit - Meteor Crater - one of just a couple of known surviving impact craters on Earth. The Meteor Crater Visitor's Center and surrounding site is actually privately owned, having been part of the same Barringer family-run company for a century.

The Apollo Crews Walked Here:

A series of roadsigns along the way, and a boilerplate Comand Module (BP-29) at the museum entry are your first clues as to the signficant role of this site. As it was the first proven impact (versus volcanic) crater on Earth, thanks mostly to the work of famous astro-geologist Eugene Schumacher, Meteor Crater was an obvious choice for lunar geology training.

The museum devotes a gallery to the Apollo crews, describing each mission and describing the six landing sites. All of the Lunar surface-bound crews and their backups traversed the rim, hammers in hand.

 

 

Does Every Impact Crater have a Twin Somewhere?!

Clever observers discovered Meteor Crater's twin in the Descartes region of the Moon. North Ray Crater (right), visited by Apollo 16 CDR John Young and LMP Charles Duke in April 1972, is the same diameter and depth - and has the advantage of missing eons of Earth's weathering - providing an image of how Meteor Crater looked in its geologic youth.

 

A Big Rock

Just how big a piece of big celestial impact leftovers did the Berringer family find around the crater site? This nickel-iron monster is the Holbinger Meterorite, weighing around 660 Kg/1,450 pounds. The Visitor's Center staff encourages everyone to handle this meteorite, and always claims anyone able to lift it may take it home with them (this joke is at least as old as the fragment - I recall the same remark from my 1968 visit and my 2001 visit). Before we brought back Lunar samples, this was about the only way to connect with a big piece of another world.