Planetary Analog Test Sites

Realistic Lunar & Martian Analog Environments 

For more than half a century, Hawaiʻi’s volcanic landscapes have served as a realistic test and training environment for space missions to the lunar surface and beyond. Made of basalt, these sites are very similar in appearance and chemical composition to lunar and Martian regolith, making them excellent test environments. We facilitate access to a number of Hawaiʻi Island sites for conducting safe, eco-friendly testing.  

These sites have a history of supporting space exploration missions. During the Apollo program, Hawaiʻi’s other-worldly terrain helped prepare astronauts for the lunar surface. In recent years, these sites have supported tests for planetary rovers and spacecraft instruments by agencies and organizations around the world.

Graph: Chemical profiles of eight basalt samples taken from different locations on Hawaiʻi Island are compared with a Martian meteorite.

Site Services

moon, mars, and hawaii landscapes compared
Interested in reserving a test site? We offer testing support and logistical services to help make your field test operation a success. 

  • Guidance for site selection: choosing the best site for your mission objectives
  • Site use permitting: granting site access through official state channels 
  • Logistical support: coordinating and securing on-site services, infrastructure, and transit

We also provide access to an ODG planetary rover with an open-payload design that can be operated remotely from anywhere in the world. For more information, please inquire about this option in your site request. 

Request a Test Site