In September 2019 in Slovenia, astronauts from five space agencies around the world took part in ESA’s CAVES training course – Cooperative Adventure for Valuing and Exercising human behaviour and performance Skills.
The six ‘cavenauts’ were ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Jeanette Epps, Roscosmos cosmonaut Nikolai Chub, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Joshua Kutryk and Japan’s space agency JAXA’s Takuya Onishi.
The three-week course prepares astronauts to work effectively in multicultural teams in an environment where safety is critical.
As they explored the caves, they encountered caverns, underground lakes and strange microscopic life. They tested new technology and conducted science – much like life on the International Space Station.
Inhospitable and hard to access, caves are untouched worlds and hold many scientific secrets. The astronauts performed a dozen experiments and were on the lookout for signs of life that has adapted to the extremes. They paid special attention to their environment, monitoring air and water quality, and looking for signs of pollution.
Credits: ESA–E. Procopio