Astronauts could be trained to ski cross-country across the surface of the moon as preparations for the next generation of lunar missions take shape.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced plans last year to build a base on the moon by 2020, hoping to use the lunar outpost as a launchpad for exploring the solar system in future generations.
Apollo 17 astronaut Harry Schmitt said that future inhabitants of the moonbase should be taught Nordic skiing to travel around the moon, where lower gravity means large distances can be covered with minimum effort.
"If I was running the astronaut office I certainly would recommend cross-country skiing, yes," Schmitt told reporters during a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.
"If you've ever done cross-country skiing, you know that on a level surface, once you get a rhythm, it is very easy to move quickly over large surfaces," said Schmitt, one of the last two men to set foot on the moon in 1972.
"Of course, on the moon, you don't slide, you glide above the surface, but again you use the same kind of rhythm. "There's nothing to restrict how far you eventually go or how fast you go, other than your own strength."
Schmitt said skiing would increase the ‘walk-back’ distance, allowing astronauts to wander away from the starting point.