Cavenauts return to Earth

Sep 21, 2012
Cave wonderland.

The international team of astronauts taking part in ESA's caving adventure have returned to Earth after spending six days underground. The voyage to the surface of our planet took them five hours from basecamp.

gives astronauts a taste of working as a safe and effective team during long spaceflights. In particular, they can hone their leadership and group skills while working in a typical multicultural team found on the International Space Station.

Course designer Loredana Bessone explains the similarities of caving and working in space: "The 'cavenauts' have to adapt to a completely new environment. Working and living underground is both physically and mentally demanding."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Space protocols were used in the course: "Cavewalking is similar to a . You have to pay continuous attention to the correct use of tools and safety protocols, to the progression path and to obstacles, which correspond to No Touch Zones and Keep Out Zones on the Space Station."

CAVES is the first behavioural course to involve astronauts from all partners of the . Astronauts from USA, Japan, Canada, Russia and Denmark participated this year.

Apart from exploring and surveying parts of the caves, the astronauts also conducted speleological research: cave meteorology, geology, biology and microbiology.

Nikolai ascending to the surface.

They set traps and collected of underground life, which have now been forwarded to specialists for further analysis.

This year the astronauts explored further than the CAVES 2011 team and discovered what astronaut Mike Fincke described as an underground "wonderland."

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen is very positive about the course: "CAVES is perhaps the most physically demanding that I have taken part in, and perhaps also the most rewarding.

"To complete the training, our crew had to work together effectively and efficiently as a team, which we did.

"All in all, it was a fantastic and unique experience."

Explore further: Final flight of European space vehicle to Space Station goes out with a 'Big Bang'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Astronauts going underground

Sep 12, 2012

ESA's CAVES training programme began its second phase last Friday as six astronauts ventured into the Sardinian caves in Italy that are their home this week. CAVES mimics elements of spaceflight to prepare ...

Cave crew returns to Earth

Oct 24, 2011

Take five astronauts and instead of sending them into space take them underground. ESA’s CAVES venture prepares astronauts to work in an international team under real exploration conditions. The latest ...

Tim gets his feet wet

Apr 18, 2012

ESA astronaut Timothy Peake will soon dive to the bottom of the sea to learn more about exploring space. A permanent underwater base almost 20 m below the waves off the coast of Florida will be Tim’s ...

Learn to dock ATV the astronaut way

Apr 11, 2012

Do you have what it takes to be an astronaut? ESA is making actual astronaut training available on your computer and tablet, so you can see for yourself.

Recommended for you

Rosetta measures comet's temperature

14 hours ago

(Phys.org) —ESA's Rosetta spacecraft has made its first temperature measurements of its target comet, finding that it is too hot to be covered in ice and must instead have a dark, dusty crust.

How Rosetta arrives at a comet

16 hours ago

After travelling nearly 6.4 billion kilometres through the Solar System, ESA's Rosetta is closing in on its target. But how does a spacecraft actually arrive at a comet?

Lunar occultation of Saturn

16 hours ago

On the night of Monday August 4, mainland Australia will see Saturn disappear behind the moon. It's the third time this year that the moon and Saturn will perfectly line up, as viewed from our part of the ...

User comments : 0