During the Apollo lunar landing series, astronauts were trained on Mauna Kea and regarded the area as the most lunarlike that they had observed. (Apollo 11 was the spaceflight in which American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first to land on the Moon, on July 20, 1969.) Mauna Kea is also one of the few places on the Earth that is similar to what scientists currently know about the surface and soil make-up of Mars; it has color (a reddish-brown,) mineralogy, chemical composition, particle size, density and magnetic properties similar to the oxidized soil of Mars.
In 2011, ‘Curiosity’ was launched and eventually landed on Mars on August 5. 2012, carrying laboratory instruments to analyze samples of rocks, soil and atmosphere, and investigate whether Mars has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. “When NASA’s Curiosity rover began using its on-board instrument to analyze the chemical composition of the rocks and soil on Mars, the results bore a striking resemblance to those obtained during previous tests of the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano.”