The CAVES 2019 team completes science training at the Divaška cave in Slovenia.
Inhospitable and hard to access, caves are untouched worlds and ideal traps for scientific evidence.
Astronauts from this CAVES edition will perform a dozen experiments and will be on the lookout for signs of life that have adapted to the extremes. CAVES stands for Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills.
The explorers will study the delicate climate, fauna and water of the cave. They will pay special attention to environmental parameters, including air and water quality, and pollution.
The six ‘cavenauts’ of this edition are ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Jeanette Epps, Roscosmos’ cosmonaut Nikolai Chub, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Josh Kutryk and Japan’s space agency JAXA’s Takuya Onishi.
The three-week course prepares astronauts to work safely and effectively in multicultural teams in an environment where safety is critical.
As they explore caves they encounter caverns, underground lakes and strange microscopic life. They test new technology and conduct science – just as if they were living on the International Space Station.
Credits: ESA–E. Procopio