ESA title
Science & Exploration

What is Pangaea?

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / CAVES and Pangaea

The Pangaea course is designed to provide European astronauts with introductory and practical knowledge of Earth and planetary geology to prepare them to become effective partners of planetary scientists and engineers in designing the next exploration missions. The course also aims to give astronauts a solid knowledge in the geology of the Solar System from leading European scientists. 

Simulated mission testing human–robot interaction
Simulated mission testing human–robot interaction

Pangaea is the first step in preparing European astronauts to become planetary explorers on missions to other planets allowing them to communicate with science advisors on Earth effectively, using a common and geologically correct language to increase fast and fruitful decision-making while selecting scientifically-relevant places to take samples.

Through Pangaea, Europe is developing operational concepts for surface missions where astronauts and robots work together, among themselves and with scientists and engineers on Earth, using the best field geology and planetary observation techniques.


  • Attain basic knowledge on geologic processes and environments of Earth, Moon, Mars and asteroids,
  • Develop observational and decisional skills to identify geological features, perform efficient sampling and report to ground control concisely and correctly,
  • Recognise and describe environments that could host extra-terrestrial life.

Training sequence and sites

The course is split into three parts over a year in these locations:

  • Earth and lunar geology at the Nördlinger Ries crater, Germany,
  • Martian sedimentary geology and surface processes in Bletterbach canyon, Italy,
  • Geological field training and astrobiology in Lanzarote, Spain.


Moon tools
Moon tools

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