See Artemis 2 astronauts explore moon-like crater in Canada (photos)

four people in rugged outdoor gear walk beside a remote lake in the canadian wilderness
From left: Astronauts Raja Chari (NASA), Jenni Gibbons (CSA), Christina Koch (NASA) and Jeremy Hansen (CSA) during geology field training and research expedition at the Kamestastin crater in northern Labrador, Canada/ (Image credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Astronauts for the Artemis 2 moon mission, along with potential future lunar crews, practiced their prospecting skills on a Canadian crater this month.

The expedition included Artemis 2 moon astronaut Jeremy Hansen, with the Canadian Space Agency, and NASA astronaut Christina Koch. The two will be mission specialists aboard Artemis 2, the first moon mission to send humans around our neighboring satellite since 1972.

While Hansen and Koch will not be landing on the moon, geology training will assist them with spotting features like craters from afar. Space agencies around the world regularly run geology trips such as this to help astronauts hone their skills in the field, as well as learn how to work in teams in rugged conditions.

Noting that the expedition went to a part of the crater that he never visited before, trip leader and planetary scientist Gordon Osinski (of Western University in Canada) called the excursion "true exploration" on X. "What discoveries we made," he added in the Sept. 5 post, "reminding us of how Kamestastin is such a unique analogue for the moon."

Related: Why Artemis 2 moon launch with astronauts is different from Artemis 1 

Joining Hansen and Koch on the expedition were CSA astronaut Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and NASA's Raja Chari. Chari and Sidey-Gibbons were both selected as astronauts in 2017 and are eligible for future mission assignments. Besides which, working with Hansen directly was a callback to their training. Hansen was the first-ever non-American responsible for managing an astronaut candidate class' training schedule, which includes mentoring the new recruits.

Canadian Space Agency astronauts Jenni Sidey-Gibbons (left) and Jeremy Hansen during a geology expedition in northern Labrador, Canada in September 2023. Hansen is a mission specialist aboard Artemis 2, a round-the-moon mission expected to launch in late 2024  (Image credit: Jeremy Hansen/X)

Their destination was the crater Kamestastin (also known as Mistastin) in northern Labrador, one of just 31 craters formed by meteorites in Canada, according to CSA documentation. The crater shares features with others that are present on the moon, such as anorthosite, a common rock at the south pole where future Artemis program missions will land.

"This site is particularly special not only because of the impact itself, but because of the target rock the asteroid hit," Sidey-Gibbons wrote on Instagram. "By learning how to collect samples and identify features here, we are learning how astronauts could identify the most scientifically rich samples to return on a lunar mission."

Read more: See Artemis 3 landing site near moon's south pole in stunning new NASA photos

CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen and his Artemis II crewmate, NASA astronaut Christina Koch, sample rocks during a field geology training expedition in northern Labrador. This training equips them to decipher lunar geology during Artemis 2 to prepare them for lunar observations and photography. (Image credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Because the expedition lay within the traditional hunting grounds of the Mushuau Innu First Nation, guardians, elders and children from those communities were included both in the expedition and in learning activities afterwards. "Hard to leave such a beautiful place, grateful for the experience," Hansen said on X (formerly Twitter) on Sept. 11, thanking the community for the hospitality as well as the gift of their flag.

The Labrador, Canada expedition in September 2023 was done in partnership with the Innu community, on whose territory the crater is situated. Here, expedition members speak with youth and community members from the Sheshatshiu and Natuashish. From left: NASA Artemis 2 moon astronaut Christina Koch, Canadian Artemis 2 moon astronaut Jeremy Hansen, Canadian astronaut Jenni Sidey-Gibbons and Western University geologist Gordon Osinski  (Image credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Osinski shared his considerable lunar experience with the group as well. The planetary scientist is considered one of the top crater experts in Canada, calling himself "Dr. Crater" on X. He is a principal investigator of Canada's expected mini rover on the moon, which will launch in 2026 or so using hardware from aerospace company Canadensys.

Western University planetary scientist Gordon Osinski (center) works with two Canadian Space Agency astronauts: Artemis 2 moon astronaut Jeremy Hansen (left) and Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, who is awaiting assignment.   (Image credit: Canadian Space Agency)

Osinski, known as "Oz" to colleagues, will be one of the geologists working directly with the Artemis 3 landing crew, which will land on the moon's surface no earlier than 2025 or 2026. He is also a regular part of NASA astronaut candidate training, focusing on geology.

Hansen, who has made numerous trips with Osinski, was recently credited in a peer-reviewed paper in which Osinski and the team on a 2011 excursion found a very rare type of crater in Saskatchewan, Canada. The transitional crater at Gow Lake, whose type was reclassified scientifically after the team's work, is only known in one other location on Earth: Goat Paddock in northwestern Australia. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: